Johnson shines as CSUB advances to semifinals

Redshirt-junior+guard+Jazmine+Johnson+shows+off+her+handles+in+front+of+a+UTRGV+defender+in+a+Western+Athletic+Conference+quarterfinals+game+at+the+Orleans+Arena+on+Wednesday%2C+March+7.

Redshirt-junior guard Jazmine Johnson shows off her handles in front of a UTRGV defender in a Western Athletic Conference quarterfinals game at the Orleans Arena on Wednesday, March 7.

Johnathan Wheatley

Assistant Sports Editor

LAS VEGAS – In its first game of this year’s Western Athletic Conference Tournament, CSU Bakersfield was firing on all cylinders.

The second-seeded Roadrunners knocked off the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley 70-59 in the tournament’s opening round.

“I’m proud of my team and how we came out and how we were composed,” said CSUB head coach Greg McCall.

The Roadrunners began the game with a pair of three pointers from guards Jazmine Johnson and Alexxus Gilbert, taking an opening 6-0 lead.

Johnson scored 13 in the first quarter.

Johnson was on fire from behind the arc shooting 4 of 5 and totalling 23 points in the game leading the way for the Roadrunners.

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley slowly crept its way back the game by crashing the basket for rebounds and driving the lanes for layups.

UTRGV eventually tied the Roadrunners 18-18 and ended the first quarter on a 9-0 run, leading CSUB 20-18 after the first quarter.

The second quarter was all CSUB, as the Roadrunners defense stifled the Vaqueros offense only allowing seven total points to be scored.

Forward Malayasia McHenry opened the second quarter with five straight points to give the Roadrunners a 23-20 lead. McHenry had herself a game, scoring 21 of CSUB’s 28 bench points.

“I want to win, I want to win a championship, so I’m doing whatever it takes to win a championship,” said McHenry.

CSUB continued to break down the UTRGV offense forcing 11 steals in the first half and forced a total of 20 turnovers in the game.

The Roadrunners went into halftime outscoring UTRGV in the second quarter 22-7 and taking a 40-27 lead.

UTRGV opened the scoring in the second half with a pair of free throws but McHenry and Johnson would continue to dominate the Vaqueros defense. Johnson added five points in the quarter while McHenry scored six points.

The defense for the Roadrunners once again stepped up and forced six turnovers and four of them were steals by CSUB.

Outscoring the Vaqueros 16-15 in the third quarter, CSUB held a commanding 56-42 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

UTRGV came out with intensity and quickly closed the CSUB lead. The Vaqueros went on a 8-0 run to get within eight points of the Roadrunners.

The lead shrank to six points, but Mchenry took the game into her own hands and scored eight straight points for the Roadrunners to give them a double-digit lead once again.

CSUB was outscored by UTRGV in the fourth quarter but were able to pull out the 11-point victory.

“Don’t let up and don’t take anything for granted. We have to come out hard,” said Johnson on bringing this momentum into the semifinals against Grand Canyon University.

The Roadrunners will continue their quest for the first championship in women’s history as they take on GCU, the No. 3 seed on Friday, March 9 at noon at the Orleans Arena.

The game is available on ESPN 3.

Senior forward Aja Williams drives past a UTRGV defender during a Western Athletic Conference quarterfinals game at the Orleans Arena on Wednesday, March 7.

 

Sophomore guard Dalis Jones uses a screen from a teammate to drive towards the hoop in a Western Athletic Conference quarterfinals game at the Orleans Arena on Wednesday, March 7.

 

Redshirt-junior guard Jazmine Johnson points toward the scoreboard in the fourth quarter of a Western Athletic Conference quarterfinals game at the Orleans Arena on Wednesday, March 7.

All photos by Peter Castillo/ The Runner