BAKERSFIELD, Calif.- The CSUB Roadrunners won their 9th-straight game and clinched at least a share of their first Western Athletic Conference regular-season championship with a 71-62 win over UMKC Thursday night at the Icardo Center.
“I was really proud of our kids, they (UMKC) kind of got us in the game with wanting to spread us out and shoot threes but I thought we grinded it out,” Barnes said. “I thought we were better on offense tonight than we were the other night…even in a close game our guys stay in there and they are ok with a grind-it-out style game and they don’t try to abandon the game plan.”
The Roadrunners (20-7, 11-1 WAC), who entered the night with a one-game lead in the WAC standings over NM State, benefitted from an 84-72 Utah Valley win over the Aggies in Las Cruces, N.M, extending the Bakersfield lead to two games with two games remaining. The Roadrunners can win their first outright-regular season championship by defeating Chicago State Saturday night.
“Hopefully we’ll have a sold out crowd for these guys, to have the chance to win it outright, a game early before having to even deal with Grand Canyon, who has a really good team, hopefully we can close it out Saturday night with 40 minutes of really good basketball,” Barnes said. “I like where our guys are at, I think they’ll be really confident coming out knowing that we can close it out.”
In another gritty-performance, the Roadrunners held the WAC’s best three-point shooting team well-below their season average of 38% by limiting the ‘Roos to just 6-26 from three-point range (23%) while benefitting from 40 points in the paint led by junior Shon Briggs who scored 20 points for the Roadrunners on a perfect 6-6 from the field and 8-11 from three-point range.
The game included seven ties and seven lead changes with both teams trading four-point leads in the first half. Bakersfield would score the final six points in the first half and take a 31-28 lead into the locker room.
The ‘Roos (15-14, 7-5 WAC) would tie the game at 45 apiece with just over 13 minutes remaining in the game and take a 47-45 lead with 11:42 remaining. Briggs would tie the game on the next possession for CSUB and the Roadrunners would never trail again after Dedrick Basile connected on the second of his two three-pointers in the game with 9:48 remaining. The Roadrunners were just 2-10 from the three in the game but shot 13-19 in the second half while relying on high-percentage looks to shoot 25-44 good for 57% in the win.
Basile added 15 points on 6-9 from the field and 2-3 from the outside. Jaylin Airington scored 12 for CSUB on 6-12 from the field in the win. Both of UMKC’s top-scorers were held below their season averages tonight with Lavell Boyd finishing with 11 points and Kyle Steward, who had been averaging 20 ppg over the last five contests held to just two points in the loss that snaps UMKC’s five-game winning streak,
The Roadrunners will host Chicago State on Saturday night in the annual ‘Homecoming’ game that could also be the most-historic homecoming to date as CSUB could clinch the outright WAC regular-season championship and the number-one seed for the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas in two weeks. Chicago State fell 82-59 at Grand Canyon on Thursday.
Tickets are available for Saturday’s game but are selling fast with the homecoming festivities. Fans can purchase at the Icardo Center box office Friday from 9 A.M.-6 P.M. and Saturday from 9 A.M. to tipoff. Fans can also charge by phone at 654-BLUE. The game is nearly sold out.