By Peter Castillo
History was made once again by the CSU Bakersfield men’s basketball team.
CSUB upset top-seed California 73-66 to earn the program’s first NCAA postseason victory in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament at the Haas Pavilion in Berkeley Tuesday, March 14.
“It’s a huge win for our program,” said CSUB coach Rod Barnes to gorunners.com. “Tonight in the first half, we probably scored as well as we have all season. Tonight was one of those nights. We got going at the right time.”
The eighth-seeded Roadrunners (23-9) were led by senior guard Dedrick Basile, who scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half. He also knocked down all four of his three-pointers before the intermission. He added five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
“When I was on fire, my teammates were just finding me,” said Basile. “That’s just the makeup of this team. Because we’re unselfish and when somebody is on fire, we just ride the hot hand.”
Basile has had that hot hand in two historic wins for the Roadrunners, as he hit the game-winner against New Mexico State University in last year’s Western Athletic Conference tournament championship game.
“Dedrick, he’s in the gym every morning,” said Barnes on Basile’s performance against Cal. “I told him it’s going to turn around. The laws of life, if you keep working at something, you are going to be better at it. He’s always been able to shoot the ball, but tonight, he showed up at a big time in a big game for us.”
The Roadrunners caught fire early from beyond the three-point line. CSUB jumped out to a 15-3 lead after a Basile three-pointer at the 12:53 mark in the first half.
Basile continued his hot shooting before half, as he helped the Roadrunners push the lead up to 23-12 with 10 minutes remaining.
Redshirt-sophomore guard Damiyne Durham added to the three-point barrage with back-to-back threes. Durham helped extend the lead to 33-14 with 5:34 left in the half.
The Roadrunners pushed the lead to 44-19 before the break thanks to another three-pointer from Durham, which gave CSUB its largest lead of the game.
The Golden Bears were limited to only 16.7 shooting from the floor in the first half.
“It starts with defense,” said junior forward Shon Briggs. “Once we work on defense, then everything comes our way.”
To start the second half, the Golden Bears rallied and cut the lead to 54-39 with less than 7 minutes left in the game.
The Roadrunners responded to extend the lead back up to 58-39 with 6 minutes left.
Cal answered right back by going to on a 14-5 run and cut it to 64-56 with 2:07 remaining. However, CSUB hit 9 of 16 free throws in the final two minutes to close out the game.
Cal was without its two leading scorers senior guard Jabari Bird (14.3 points per game) and sophomore forward Ivan Rabb (14 points points per game).
“Give them credit they fought back, but it was a hole that we had dug for them and it was hard for them to overcome.” said Barnes.
Briggs came off the bench and poured in 17 points and grabbed a team-high 9 rebounds.
“We’re a deep team, and we really believe that,” said Briggs. “My teammates just pushed me and keep telling me to be aggressive.
Redshirt-sophomore guard Damiyne Durham added 13 points off the bench. Redshirt-junior guard Brent Wrapp finished with 11 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
This was the second time CSUB beat Cal. The first was back on Dec. 28, 2014 when the Roadrunners beat the Golden Bears, 55-52.
CSUB is scheduled to play at No. 4 Colorado State University, which beat No. 5 University of Charleston, 81-74.
“I know they are going to be tough and I know they are going to be well-coached,” said Barnes. “I know we are going to be in a battle. We got to prepare for it, but we’ll deal with it when we get there.”
Time and date for the upcoming game against Colorado State have not been set yet. For details on that game, check back on therunneronline.com.