By Joe Macias
There was no upset in Oklahoma City.
The season for the 15th-seeded CSU Bakersfield men’s basketball came to an end in the first round of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament as the Roadrunners fell to second-seeded Oklahoma 82-68 in the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Friday.
“(Oklahoma) did what they normally do,” said CSUB head coach Rod Barnes. “Down the stretch when it was close, they hit a couple threes. That was the difference in the game. These are my sons, and I’m very proud. Their season and what they’ve gone through and what they’ve done, for our administration, for our university, for our city and I’m just proud of them.”
CSUB hung around for about 37 minutes of the game as most of the Oklahoma fans that filled the arena went quiet with the uneasiness of March Madness.
But then after CSUB’s senior center Aly Ahmed missed a three-pointer as the shot clock was expiring, Sooners’ junior guard Jordan Woodard and senior guard Buddy Hield hit two critical threes in the 3:12 and 2:31 mark of the second half.
This gave the Sooners a 75-65 lead and prevented CSUB from gaining any momentum back in the game.
Hield, who is in the top five prospects going into the NBA draft, also added two assists, two blocks, two steals and five rebounds to go along with his 27 points.
“Oklahoma just hit shots, like big shots, that they needed to hit,” said junior guard Dedrick Basile. “So, we respect them and we just never gave up as a team.”
The Roadrunners struggled to stop Hield who scored 16 of his 27 points of the game in the second half. The Sooners star hit shots late in the game that CSUB was unable to respond to.
“It’s a really good feeling to see the program come all the way to this point,” said CSUB senior center Aly Ahmed. “Finally, we made it to the NCAA. I promised myself that I wanted to be in the NCAA before I move back home and these guys made it true. I couldn’t thank them more. I love them all.”
In his final collegiate game, Ahmed finished with a team-high 16 points and eight rebounds.
“Aly made (Hield) mad,” said CSUB senior forward Kevin Mays, “but (he is) definitely a great player. I respect him a lot.”
Mays finished with 14 points in his final game as a Roadrunner. Basile added 13 points.
CSUB got off to quick start leading 8-0 to start the game but going into halftime the Roadrunners fell behind to the Sooners. However, Ahmed hit a halftime ending three-pointer to cut the Sooners lead to 41-34.