By Vincent Perez
Two missing stars and a lackluster second half was the deciding factor for the CSU Bakersfield men’s basketball team.
The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley defeated CSUB 87-74, Thursday, Jan. 11 in the Icardo Center in front of a crowd of 2,603.
In their second Western Athletic Conference game this season, CSUB (7-10, 0-3) could not defend shots that they usually do.
Senior guard Brent Wrapp did not play due to illness (flu), but was seen on the bench. Damiyne Durham, a redshirt-junior guard, was not seen in the Icardo Center.
Head Coach Rod Barnes stated in the post-game press conference that Durham is suspended indefinitely. Barnes said that Durham was disciplined because of his relationship with the team, but Durham did not do anything illegal or immoral.
UTRGV (10-8, 2-0) dominated the Roadrunners in second half of the game, after only leading by 3 at halftime. Four Vaqueros finished the game in double digits. They were led by senior guard Nick Dixon who scored 21 points.
The Roadrunners turned over the ball 16 times. However, they out rebounded the Vaqueros 39-to-28.
Despite the second conference loss, junior guard Rickey Holden and freshman guard/forward Justin McCall showed their ability to play well under pressure.
Holden finished with a season-high 18 points and was perfect at the foul line (8-for-8). McCall, who does not see much playing time, shot 3-for-5, had nine points and five rebounds. McCall played 28 minutes and had two steals in the loss.
The Vaqueros shot 52 percent from the floor, while the Roadrunners shot 41 percent in comparison.
With seven minutes left in the half, CSUB led 23-20. The Roadrunners never led the Vaqueros by more than 3 points for the rest of the game, as the team appeared lost on the court defensively and struggled to score on offense.
Barnes said that the team needs to improve on defense. “We got to rebound the ball. When we have opportunities to slow guys down, we’re not rebounding the ball well.”
However, Barnes said that team communicated better than the 75-42 loss at Utah Valley on Jan. 6.
Senior forward Shon Briggs said it was a tough loss to UTRGV. “We knew we were capable of this win, but we have to bounce back on Saturday [against New Mexico State],” said Briggs.
He fouled out with seven minutes left in the game and CSUB trailing by 13.
Holden said about the Vaqueros’ winning efforts, “They were hard on us … we’ve got to fix our mistakes.” Holden added that the Roadrunners are going to focus on defense.
After four consecutive losses, two of which were in conference, Holden remains optimistic.
“We can’t give up on ourselves. We were capable of winning those games,” said Holden.
Barnes said that he hopes Wrapp is healthy enough to play Saturday against New Mexico State University.
“As a coach, I went down there [to check on Wrapp],” said Barnes about the loss. According to Barnes, Wrapp was vomiting and felt weak before the game, so he sat Wrapp. Wrapp is day-to-day, according to Barnes.
The Roadrunners host defending WAC tournament champion New Mexico State (14-3, 2-0) Saturday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m. in the Icardo Center.