PULLMAN, Wash.,- Trailing by as many as 18 in the second half and struggling from the free throw-line the Bakersfield Roadrunners battled back within two points with less than two minutes remaining but the Washington State Cougars held on for the 62-56 win Friday night at Beasley Coliseum.
“Obviously we’re disappointed because we came here to win,” said head coach Rod Barnes. “But I’m proud of the way our kids battled back on the road, the free throws just hurt us too much tonight.”
Playing under the new college basketball rules which include a reduction in the amount of contact a defender is allowed, a combined 55 fouls were called in the game, 32 on Bakersfield and 23 on Washington State which led to an 11-28 performance from the free throw-line for CSUB and a 28-43 night for the Cougars.
The Roadrunners and Cougars both started slow in the first half as the lead changed twice with the ‘Runners leading by as many as three with just over six minutes to play. The Cougars however would lead 25-28 at halftime despite shooting just 28% from the field while Bakersfield was 11-25 for 44%.
Washington State would open up a big lead early in the second half thanks to a 17-3 run and led by as many as 18 with just over 13 minutes remaining. Bakersfield then clawed their way back into the game, behind the defense of Issiah Grayson (R-Sr., Atlanta, Ga., Southern Idaho CC) and Brandon Barnes (R-Jr., Atlanta, Ga., Lipscomb) which opened up three-point opportunities for Abdul Ahmed (R-Jr., London, England, Trinity Valley CC) who made three shots from three-point range inside the final five minutes, the third of which pulled Bakersfield back within two points with 1:36 to play.
Those were the final points however for Bakersfield as the ‘Runners missed a three-pointer with :46 seconds to play and Washington State managed to take the clock down to 12.5 seconds before a Bakersfield foul added two points at the free throw-line for Davonte Lacy which sealed the Cougars win.
Ahmed led the ‘Runners with 12 points on 3-7 shooting and 3-5 from three-point range while also grabbing six rebounds while Barnes finished with 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds while shooting 3-4 from the floor. Lacy led Washington State with 28 points including a 14-17 night from the free throw-line.
Bakersfield shot 20-48 from the field for 41% after shaking off slow starts in both halves while the Cougars were 15-48 from the field for 31% but managed a 65% clip from the free throw line where Bakersfield was just 39%.
The Roadrunners return home Monday night for their home opener and the start of a four-game home stand against UC Merced at the Icardo Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 P.M.
“Apart from winning our goal early in the season is to get better and we did that tonight,” Barnes said. “This four-game home stand is huge for us; I hope our fans come out on Monday and support us and honor our Veterans.”