After a second round exit in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament last spring, the collective mindset of the CSU Bakersfield women’s basketball team is set on one thing: winning the conference.
“That’s our main goal. We have that in our mind that we all want that hardware,” said redshirt-senior forward Erika Williams.
The Fresno, California native is also taking on the role of vocal leader as the school’s all-time leading rebounder Batabe Zempare graduated this past spring.
Williams ranked second on the team last season in points with 10, rebounds with 4 and assists with 2.2.
The 2015-2016 season ended in heartbreaking fashion for the Roadrunners as they lost in double-overtime 73-72 in a second round matchup against the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
The loss that ended the season is still something that resonates with sophomore guard Addi Walters.
“I think about it every day, honestly, in every single drill and every single play we’re thinking about that game to try to push us to the WAC Championship…it’s the little things that add up over time,” said Walters
Last season, Walters finished third on the team in scoring with 9.7 points per game and shot a team high 40.1 percent from three-point range.
CSUB ended with a record of 12-19 but did fare well in WAC play, earning a record of 8-6.
The Roadrunners played a very tough non-conference schedule last season and will again this season. Matchups this season include games versus Oregon, California and Stanford.
Last season, the team finished the non-conference portion of their schedule with a record of 4-13 and failed to win a single game away from the Icardo Center.
It will be key for this year’s team to maintain consistent play throughout their non-conference and conference schedule to reach their ultimate goal.
“Last year we were totally up and down; we need stick with what our coach is talking about to win games. If we deviate and do our own thing, it’s going to be up and down like last year,” said Walters about maintaining a consistent approach.
This year’s team added three freshmen in guards Dalis Jones, Daije Harris and Kate Tokuhara. Center Jazmyne Bartee is also a transfer from the University of Nevada Las Vegas who will play this season after being ineligible last year.
By Esteban Ramirez
CSU Bakersfield men’s basketball ended its season walking off the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City after losing in the Roadrunners’ first appearance at the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Despite the first round exit, it was a historic run and CSUB has its sights set on going back to the Big Dance.
“I see us going to the NCAA tournament again,” said senior guard Dedrick Basile, who last year was the Western Athletic Conference Tournament MVP. “I feel like we can do it again and go even further than last year.”
Redshirt-senior forward Jaylin Airington said he thinks the team will win the WAC once again,
“We are hungry,” Airington said. “We did it last year, so why not again? Why not us? Why not again?”
Last season, CSUB posted its best record since moving to Division I as it finished with a 24-9 record overall and 11-3 in conference.
The Roadrunners rolled into the WAC Tournament and beat seventh-seeded Chicago State University 79-57. Then they went on to beat third-seeded Seattle University 72-47.
That set the stage for a championship game against top-seeded New Mexico State University, where CSUB beat the Aggies thanks to a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Basile.
“It’s a moment that I’ll never forget,” said Basile. “I think I’ll look back 50 years from now and still think of that.”
The Roadrunners beat the Aggies 57-54 and clinched their first berth for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Despite getting the No. 15 seed, CSUB played second-seeded University of Oklahoma close and even had a late lead against the Sooners.
But due to 36 points from now NBA player Buddy Hield, the Roadrunners fell to the Sooners 82-68.
CSUB tips off its season with an exhibition game against Master’s University from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics on Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.
Then, the Roadrunners will have their first regular season game as they host San Diego Christian College, which is also an NAIA school, on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.
CSUB is also scheduled to host UC Santa Barbara Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. and Fresno State Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.
“I like our pieces to our team,” said CSUB coach Rod Barnes on Roadrunner Rundown. “I like our leadership of where we are, so I’m really looking forward to this season. I keep telling our guys I think this team can be as good as last year’s once we get to the end of the year.”
CSUB lost its two leading scorers in center Aly Ahmed, who averaged 13 points per game and 6.2 rebounds, and forward Kevin Mays, who averaged 12.6 points and 8 rebounds.
Aside from Basile and Airington, some of the other key returners are redshirt-junior guard Brent Wrapp, who averaged 5.1 points per game and 4.2 assists per game and redshirt-sophomore guard Damiyne Durham, who averaged 11.7 points and 3.3 rebounds.
Barnes said some of the key new players are 6-foot-5 freshman forward Taze Moore from Southaven High in Mississippi, 6-foot-6 junior swingman Shon Briggs from City College of San Francisco and 6-11 redshirt-junior center Fallou Ndoye, who transferred from Mississippi State University.
However, Ndoye will not be eligible to play until February since he transfered from MSU.
Airington said that the strength of this year’s team is its guard play, its speed and athleticism.
But he added the team still needs to get better on defense.
This past month, the WAC released the coaches polls, ranking New Mexico State at the top of the conference and CSUB at third right behind Grand Canyon University.
“It’s just going to make us compete more and work that much harder,” said Basile.