Roadrunners fall in WAC tournament final

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From left to right: CSUB senior Dedrick Basile, redshirt-senior Jaylin Airington and redshirt-junior Brent Wrapp look on in the final moments of the game against New Mexico State at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas Saturday, March 11.

Peter Castillo

Sports Editor

 

A sequel was not in the cards as the CSU Bakersfield men’s basketball team was denied a second consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament.

CSUB lost to New Mexico State University 70-60 in the Western Athletic Conference tournament final in Las Vegas on March 11.

Junior center Moataz Aly puts his hands on his face as the Aggies beat the Roadrunners 70-60 in the championship game.
Photo by AJ Alvarado/The Runner

“We thank God for the opportunity we had tonight,” said CSUB coach Rod Barnes. “We must give New Mexico State credit. They did a great job tonight.”

The Roadrunners stifled the Aggies’ offensive attack in the first half as NMSU was held without a field goal for a stretch of 13 minutes and 25 seconds. NMSU shot just 28.6 percent prior to the intermission.

Despite the struggles offensively, the Aggies were able to stay in the game thanks to their ability to get to the free throw line. NMSU shot 12 for 16 from the stripe in the first half.

CSUB led 29-20 at halftime.

However, the momentum shifted in the second half as NMSU used a 21-2 run to take 47-41 lead with 7 minutes remaining.

Senior guard and WAC tournament Most Valuable Player Ian Baker led the charge and scored all 15 of his points in the second half.

The Aggies were able to seal the game at the free throw line. NMSU shot 28 for 39 from the free throw line.

As was the case in the semifinals against Utah Valley University, foul trouble once again was a problem for the Roadrunners.

Redshirt-senior forward Matt Smith was on the floor for only 13 minutes due to foul trouble. He scored 4 points on 1 of 6 shooting in his final game against the Aggies.

“I felt like we managed [foul trouble] well to get to halftime,” said Barnes. “Probably in the last minute and-a-half I got concerned because I couldn’t set up to try to stop them on the defensive end.”

After logging 53 minutes in the quadruple-overtime win over Utah Valley in the semifinals, senior guard Dedrick Basile led the way for CSUB with 17 points in the championship game.

“This team made a lot of history,” said Basile. “Last year’s team made history. I’m just very grateful to be around the guys I was around in my two years here at CSUB.”

Redshirt-senior forward Jaylin Airington tallied his 1,000 career point. He finished with 12 points.

“I was just in the moment,” said Airington. “Coach Barnes ran a couple plays for me and I got going. I just trusted and believed in him.”

Although the Roadrunners will not receive a bid to the NCAA tournament, they will have an opportunity to play in a postseason tournament.

The Roadrunners will play in the National Invitational Tournament by virtue of their regular season WAC title.

This is the Roadrunners’ first ever appearance in the NIT.