UMKC pulls a stunner against the ‘Runners

By Josh Bennett
Assistant Sports Editor

The California State University, Bakersfield men’s basketball team lost a heartbreaker to the Kansas City Kangaroos, 70-69, Saturday night at the Icardo Center. This was due to a last second 3-pointer from Kansas City.

CSUB drew up an inbound play, which opened redshirt-senior guard Brandon Barnes with 14 seconds left, but Kansas City responded with a 3-pointer with two seconds left to win the game.

Redshirt-junior guard Javonte Maynor and redshirt senior guard Issiah Grayson led the team with 16 points each in the losing effort.

The game began with both teams trading droughts and runs. After a slow start from both teams, Kansas City struck first with a 13-2 run and limiting the `Runners to a scoring drought of nearly four and a half minutes. CSUB (8-12, 1-5 WAC) was able to answer with a 14-0 run of their own and held the Kangaroos scoreless for over four minutes.

CSUB maintained their lead until the very end of the game. The `Runners would struggle to close out the game as they saw their lead vanish, thanks to two turnovers and another scoring dry spell of three minutes.

“I think we didn’t know how to keep the ball safe, when we were up by eight points. We should have taken care of the ball more and played harder defense. I thought we ended the game early,” said sophomore center Aly Ahmed.

“We had a turnover and [Kansas City] tied the game up, so my main concern when the game was tied was to get a good shot and come down and play good defense. Unfortunately [Kansas City] hit a good shot in the corner,” Maynor said.

“I’m proud of the effort they gave tonight,” said Head Coach Rod Barnes. “I thought we did a good job of playing together. I thought we fought hard as a team and communicated well on offense and defense. The turnovers we did have were pretty aggressive plays, and I’m okay with that.”

Despite the loss, there was a positive vibe within the locker room, with the captains telling the team to keep their heads up. CSUB was a perfect 15-15 from the free throw line, and Ahmed recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

“We won a lot of things. We poised down and played together. We did [well], except that shot at the very end,” Ahmed said.

The `Runners were coming off another tough loss on Thursday night to Chicago State, where they lost 71-63. Grayson led the team with 28 points, but nothing else seemed to work in the `Runners’ favor.

“Overall, I feel much better about our team play tonight and how they responded to the loss than I did when I left here on Thursday. Both were losses, but it’s the way you lose sometimes and it’s the way your team plays,” Barnes said.

CSUB will try to erase their current three-game losing streak on their upcoming three-game road trip. They will travel to New Mexico State on Thursday, and Texas-Pan American on Saturday. Their road trip will come to an end on Saturday, Feb. 8, at Grand Canyon.

“We just have to go on the road and just fight and get them back on the road. We have to feel that hunger, and that feeling when they came here and beat us, we go back and take it out on them, and just try to beat their brains out,” Maynor said.