COLUMN: Welcome to primetime, CSUB


The CSUB men's basketball team piles on junior guard Dedrick Basile after he hit the game-winning three over New Mexico State on Saturday in the Orleans Arena. Photo by AJ Alvarado/The Runner

By Esteban Ramirez



CSU Bakersfield’s Western Athletic Conference title win wasn’t just historic, it was poetic.

New Mexico State has had CSUB’s number 11 times before Saturday’s game.

That’s right, 11 times.

So, to beat the team that has had your number for so long makes this even more special to the CSUB community.

At times, saying New Mexico State to a CSUB fan was like saying Voldemort.

You just didn’t bring the Aggies up, after they constantly beat the Roadrunners time and time again.

So, when CSUB built a lead against rival New Mexico State and the Aggies came right back to tie the game, it was just all-too-familiar to any CSUB fan at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas or those watching from home.

Then, junior guard Dedrick Basile stepped up and hit the biggest shot in CSUB men’s basketball history.

He hit a tough, contested three-pointer to beat New Mexico State.

“It still feels unreal,” said Basile.

Basile ended the Aggies’ three-year run of dominance.

CSUB alumnus John Salazar said beating the Aggies makes it even better.

“That team that has always been beating us and has always been knocking out,” said Salazar.

Basile etched his name forever in CSUB sports history by punching the Roadrunners’ ticket into the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament for the first time.

He also proved that CSUB could beat the bullies of the WAC — New Mexico State.

“Kevin Mays said it best after we beat Seattle, we were praying that New Mexico State would win the semifinals,” said CSUB Athletics Director Kenneth Siegfried. “We had to beat the big guys and we did it. It’s unbelievable.”

While it would have still been a huge accomplishment if CSUB beat any other team for the Western Athletic Conference title, it needed to be against New Mexico State, the team they were 0-11 against, the team that continuously had been a thorn in their side and the team that won the last three WAC championships.

It proved without any doubt that CSUB was ready for primetime.

Additionally, to beat the same team that earlier in the season beat CSUB with a game-winning three-pointer and to pay it back, it’s just the icing on the cake.

This win was monumental because this program had shown that it had already turned a corner, but it needed to prove that it could beat that team.

CSUB fan Mark Thompson, who was there when CSUB won the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship back in 1991, said that when the shot went up he was just saying, “just please go in.”

This win also solidified that CSUB men’s basketball belongs in Division I and the decision to jump to D-I 10 years ago was the right move.

“(The win) validates our decision some years ago to move to Division I,” said CSUB President Horace Mitchell. “We thought we could be competitive in Division I and we have been.”

This season had just felt like it was going to be something special from the start.

The only thing standing in CSUB’s way was New Mexico State but the Roadrunners showed that they were ready for the bright lights and the pressure situations of the big games, so welcome to primetime, CSUB.