BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The Bakersfield Roadrunners, paced by five players in double figures and a 57-percent shooting performance from the field never trailed winning their home opener 97-54 over UC Merced Monday night at the Icardo Center.
Bakersfield was led by Matt Ratto (Sr., Ripon, Calif., Modesto CC) who came off the bench midway through the second half and scored 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting from three-point range in just eight minutes of play as the Roadrunners never trailed the Bobcats en route to their first win of the season.
“We changed the lineup and I think we got off to a better start not turning the ball over with a little-more experienced ball handlers out there on the floor and once we got off to a good start I thought our guys kept pushing it,” said head coach Rod Barnes. “This is a game that you kind of credit to the coaches in terms of scheduling, we just came off a loss and now you come to a game like this and play well and get a lot of guys some time and not wear too many guys out; I think it helps us.”
CSUB set the pace all night, changing looks and showcasing their versatility as guard Tyrell Corbin (Jr., Columbia, S.C., Salt Lake City CC), center Abdul Ahmed (R-Jr., London, England, Trinity Valley CC) and forward Erik Kinney (So., Fairfield, Calif., Sacramento HS) each added 12 points for the ‘Runners while Brandon Barnes (R-Jr., Atlanta, Ga., Lipscomb) led the way on the glass with 13 rebounds for Bakersfield.
CSUB never trailed in the game and built a 47-20 first-half lead behind a 19-of-34 from the field. The ‘Runners dominated inside all night as well, outrebounding the Bobcats 49-22 and scoring 50 points in the paint compared to just 12 for UC Merced.
Ratto came into the game with 13 minutes remaining and hit his first three-pointer 30 seconds later, he would add another with 10:46 to play before hitting three more in the final four minutes setting a new career-high in point.
“After he hit those first two the guys just kept saying ‘feed him, feed him’ and he kept knocking them down,” said Barnes. “Matt’s a really good shooter and when teams start playing zone against us we might start playing him more because one thing he can do is shoot the basketball and sometimes we need that.”
The win improves Bakersfield to 1-1 on the season and 36-7 all-time in home openers. The win at the Icardo Center also improved Bakersfield’s all-time record in the venue to 181-22.
Bakersfield’s all-time record improves to 799-422; they will seek win number 800 for the program Wednesday night as they host Sacramento State (1-0) at the Icardo Center. The Hornets snapped a six-game losing streak to Bakersfield dating back to 1989 with an 85-67 win over the ‘Runners last season in Sacramento.
“They have two guards returning in their backcourt that are two of the best guards in their league and some people say they may be the best tandem in that league so we have our hands full,” said Barnes. “We’re still going through this searching situation but I think with the depth that we have and with the way we play we have a chance to be okay.”