KANSAS CITY, Mo. – CSU Bakersfield’s men’s basketball team put up another strong defensive performance to round out the road trip with a second Western Athletic Conference awayvictory. On Saturday night, the Roadrunners kept host UMKC quiet as CSUB earned a 74-63 win at Municipal Auditorium in another all-around effort from the team.
“Our guys did a really good job of following the game plan,” said Rod Barnes, Head Coach of the ‘Runners. “We had a lot of guys who got in there tonight and showed our depth. I’m really proud of our guys. I love this team. They have been solid throughout the year. I think we’re on our way to finishing strong.”
The game got out to a slow start for the ‘Runners, who found themselves in a hole early. CSUB trailed by as many as six points in the opening minutes of the game, but scrappy defense slowed a potent UMKC offense down and the ‘Runners gained their first lead of the game at the 11:51 mark with a score of 13-12.
After CSUB led for several minutes, UMKC clawed back into the game and gained a 28-27 lead on LaVell Boyd’s jump shot. CSUB regained the lead on Dedrick Basile’s layup with 1:32 left in the first half and the ‘Runners would not give the lead back.
CSUB went into halftime with a five-point advantage as junior transfer Shon Briggs’ 10 first-half points led the ‘Runners to a 33-28 advantage. Bakersfield stormed out of the locker room, pushing its lead to 13 points in the first seven minutes of the second half. UMKC surged its way back in again, cutting CSUB’s lead to just six points with five and a half to play after a pair of good free throws from Boyd.
The ‘Runners went on a 6-0 run over the next three minutes to extend the lead back out to double digits with just over two minutes remaining in the game. CSUB’s defense held up against a desperate UMKC side as the ‘Runners solidified a 74-63 victory on the road. Saturday night’s win came by a margin of 11 points, the third-straight victory over the ‘Roos by that exact margin after a pair of 11-point wins last year.
For the second straight game, the ‘Runners were offensively led by redshirt senior Matt Smith. The 6-6 forward came into the game averaging almost 15 points per game in WAC play and paced CSUB with 18 points against UMKC. Smith was highly efficient, going 7-for-8 from the field while adding four rebounds and two steals for the ‘Runners.
Off the bench, CSUB got great productivity from Briggs, a transfer from San Francisco Community College. The native of Brentwood, Calif. saw a team-high 31 minutes despite not starting thanks to scoring 14 points while pulling down five rebounds. Four of Briggs' rebounds were on the offensive end of the court as CSUB outscored UMKC 11-5 on second chance points and 42-18 in the paint.
Redshirt senior Jaylin Airington contributed 12 points in the game, but had to sit out a large chunk of the second half due to foul trouble. Redshirt junior Brent Wrapp played well from the point, scoring six points while dishing out five assists for the ‘Runners. Damiyne Durham, a redshirt sophomore guard, played well in Airington’s stead, scoring nine points and pulling down six rebounds against the ‘Roos.
Defense was the name of the game in Kansas City, as usually is the case for CSUB. The ‘Runners held UMKC to CSUB’s season average of 63 points allowed to opponents, which ranks 35th overall in NCAA Division I. UMKC's Boyd was the WAC leader in scoring coming into the game, but the guard's 13 points were quite a bit below his season average of 19 points as CSUB's defense swarmed the 'Roos.
With the victory CSUB improved to 14-7 overall and 5-1 in WAC play. The ‘Runners nearly came within half a game of WAC leader New Mexico State in the conference standings on Saturday night. The Aggies were in a tight road match, but New Mexico State held on for a narrow win over Utah Valley to remain undefeated in WAC games this year.
The Roadrunners will be back in action next weekend with a single WAC road game. CSUB will take on Grand Canyon in Phoenix, Ariz. on Saturday, Feb. 4, with tip off set for 7 p.m. (MT) at GCU Arena.