CSUB spirits are running high before final WAC Tournament


Mari Woodmansee

Junior Vanessa Austin blocks Grand Canyon player during the game agains Grand Canyon on Saturday Mar. 7

Brian Melgar, Sports Writer

  The Western Athletic Conference tournament is coming! Starting March 11, college basketball will become even more explosive as the eight Western Athletic Conference teams compete for the WAC championship in Las Vegas. Among them is CSU Bakersfield’s women’s basketball team, and morale is at an all-time high.  

  CSUB women’s basketball will head to Las Vegas, NV on Tuesday afternoon to compete in their final WAC tournament, and they intend for this to be a big one for them. The players are abuzz with anticipation, and the general consensus during the interviews was that this final tournament run will end in a victory.  

  Junior center Vanessa Austin did not shy away from the team’s struggles this year, stating that their “season has been rocky, but we have the ability to flip a switch.” Austin continued by saying that the team started strong but began to lose their footing when they got into regular season play.  

  Despite ending the season with a 16-13 record and coming into the tournament as the number six seed, the team has not lost any confidence or morale and is looking to the future and the WAC tournament. Austin specifically seemed very confident in the team’s chances when she said, “We have all the pieces, we just need to put them in the right place.” 

  Senior point guard Dalis Jones echoed the same confidence as Austin, stating that the team is ready for the uphill battle that lies ahead. “Our team is really strong right now,” Jones said, “Our pre-season was amazing, and I know what we’re capable of.”  

  When asked of the experiences they learned from some of the tougher teams they have taken on this season, Jones replied, “San Jose State really set the bar for us. After we beat them, we knew what we could do.”  

  Shining praise onto the Spartans, Jones commented on how the Roadrunners felt overwhelming pride in themselves for being able to defeat such a strong team. Jones also stated that she feels the team is strong in every position coming into the tournament, and if they can align all of their pieces correctly, it will spell victory for CSUB in their final WAC tournament. 

  Head Coach Greg McCall is pleased with the state of the team going forward, and how they feel about this being their final chance at a WAC championship. “They’re disappointed about the losses, we all were, but their spirits are still high. We go out there to compete and we’re ready to win games,” McCall said.  

  McCall, much like his players, was undeterred by any of the losses the team had suffered throughout the season, firmly believing in their ability, drive, and hunger to go out and win. When asked if the team had learned from their losses, McCall said that the team has developed the skills that are necessary, but the team cannot lose focus at pivotal points of the game, and that the players have identified this and are determined to not lose focus during the tournament. The team knows they need the focus, and Coach McCall knows this as well. As he stated in his comments, “Teams are gonna come gunning for us because we’re the team to beat.” 

  CSUB’s women’s basketball’s record is 7-8 in conference, with many of the losses being overtime games that could have gone either way. This does not hold them back, as they are still a contender for the WAC championship in both their eyes and in the eyes of their opponents. The WAC tournament begins Wednesday, March 11, as the Runners take on Grand Canyon University in the first round. Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m.