BAKERSFIELD, Calif.—27 points from newcomer Aja Williams and timely free throw shooting down the stretch gave CSU Bakersfield a 58-51 victory over Hawai’i in the 2016-17 season opener for the ‘Runners Sunday afternoon.
The Roadrunners played a physical brand of basketball and were called for 11 fouls in the first quarter. UH (0-2) went to the line 10 times, but only made four. UH led 13-12 after one. Williams scored six of CSUB’s first seven points in the second quarter to give the ‘Runners a 19-14 lead. Hawai’i kept the Roadrunners off the board for nearly four minutes scoring seven in a row to take the lead. The Rainbow Wahine would take a 27-24 advantage into halftime.
Defense was on display in the third quarter as each team could only muster nine points each. Hawai’i shot 18.8% (3-of-16) from the field while CSUB was 25% (4-of-16) from the floor during the 10-minute stanza.
The Rainbow Wahine would push their lead to five with 4:58 remaining when Sarah Toeaina made a layup. An Addi Walters three-point play on the ensuing CSUB possession keyed an 8-0 spurt that was capped off by a Williams’ three with 2:42 to play put the Roadrunners up for the first time since the second quarter. Briana Harris’ jumper cut the Roadrunner lead to 50-49 before Williams responded with a jumper to create a one-possession game.
The teams combined for three turnovers and two missed field goal attempts over the next minute of play before Toeaina’s basket made it 52-51 with 67 seconds to go. CSUB called timeout and set a play for Erika Williams who missed a jumper. She got her own rebounded and passed it out to Aja Williams. Aja Williams missed both free throw attempts, but her second attempt was rebounded by teammate Brittney Sims. Sims was fouled trying to put the ball back up and made the first of six CSUB free throws in the final 26 seconds that resulted in the final seven-point margin of victory for the Roadrunners.
Aja Williams was 9-of-26 from the field, taking second most shots in a game by a CSUB player at the Division I level. She also led the team with eight rebounds. She added an assist and a block. Harris recorded a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds, both team highs. Toeaina scored 14 points and grabbed eight boards.
The Roadrunners forced 19 turnovers which were turned into 18 points. CSUB held UH to 31% (18-of-58) shooting from the field. Hawai’i outrebounded the Roadrunners 44-41 and held the ‘Runners to 33.3% (20-of-60) from the floor. CSUB, which was called for 16 fouls in the first half, only committed seven in the second.
“What a way to start the season off,” said CSUB head coach Greg McCall. “We knew Hawai’i would be tough and hats off to them. I was happy on the way our team played today. We lost games like today last year and we have players on our team that are angry about last year and excited about starting the way we did today.
The Roadrunners (1-0) host Southern Utah (1-0) Tuesday night at 7 p.m.