BERKELEY, Calif. – Disappointment from not making the NCAA Tournament started a fire for CSU Bakersfield’s men’s basketball team as the Roadrunners exploded for a huge first half en route to a 73-66 victory over Cal in Tuesday night’s National Invitational Tournament first-round game. The victory was the second straight for the ‘Runners over the Bears and the first NCAA postseason victory in CSUB’s Division I history.
“This was a huge win for our program,” said Rod Barnes, Head Coach of the ‘Runners. “These guys have worked extremely hard to get us to this point. We haven’t been scoring the ball well, but tonight, in the first half, we probably scored as well as we have all season. We got the advantage and give them the credit, they fought back.”
Barnes went on to highlight some of his top performers on Tuesday: “Dedrick and Damiyne hit some shots, which gave us some confidence and also gave us some cushion. I told our guys, if you keep working, things will eventually turn around.”
The ‘Runners jumped out to a quick lead over Cal thanks to swarming defense and efficient offense. In the first eight minutes, Cal was 1-for-12 from the field while the ‘Runners had three blocks and two steals. On the other end of the floor, CSUB was 7-for-10 behind 10 early points from senior Dedrick Basile.
A native of Houston, Texas, Basile went on to score 16 points to lead the ‘Runners in the first half. The bulk of the senior guard’s points came off of four three pointers while redshirt sophomore Damiyne Durham chipped in with four threes of his own for 12 points.
The ‘Runners extended their lead all the way into the locker room as Durham’s last three pointer with 17 seconds remaining in the half put the ‘Runners ahead 44-19. The 44 points was CSUB’s second-best of the season against a Division I opponent while the ‘Runners allowed less than 19 points in the first half three times this year.
The game was a tale of two halves as the CSUB offense struggled coming out of halftime. Bakersfield converted on just three of its first 17 shots in the second half, but maintained a 17-point lead with less than eight minutes to go.
The Bears clawed back, drawing the score within eight points with less than two minutes left in the game. A pair of free throws by sophomore Don Coleman with 50.6 seconds remaining cut the ‘Runner lead to seven points, the closest the Bears would get.
Despite Coleman scoring 23 of his 26 points in the second half, CSUB held on to earn the road victory. Down the stretch, guard Brent Wrapp converted layups and was fouled twice for the "and one" while redshirt senior Jaylin Airington scored all five of his points on free throws in the final minutes.
Basile led the ‘Runners with 18 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals in the game while junior Shon Briggs scored 17 points off the bench. Durham wound up with 13 points in the game and Wrapp scored 11 while adding five rebounds and five assists.
Bakersfield’s win over Cal was the first NCAA Division I postseason victory and first NIT win in program history. The ‘Runners also took their second straight victory over Cal, both on the road, with the last coming two years ago.
With Colorado State earning a victory on Tuesday evening, the Roadrunners’ next stop will be Fort Collins, Colo. to face the Rams. Colorado State defeated College of Charleston 81-74 in first-round NIT action and will welcome CSU Bakersfield on Monday, March 20 at 8 P.M. PT. The game will be televised on ESPN 2 with live radio coverage on Newstalk 1180/96.1 FM KERN presented by Bakersfield Hyundai.