For someone who was supposed to be slowed by a knee injury, Cal State Bakersfield's Stephon Carter looked like he was 100 percent Saturday.
Carter had 23 points to move closer to the Roadrunners' career scoring record as CSUB beat future Western Athletic Conference rival Utah Valley 75-62 in the Icardo Center.
"I'm good," said Carter, who has a strained medial collateral ligament in his right knee and needs 34 points to pass Kenny Warren for No. 1 on the CSUB all-time scoring list. "Nothing will keep me out. If they say I can play, I'll play."
Carter, who began the night averaging 15 points per game, was coming off back-to-back nine-point games. But he started quickly against Utah Valley, scoring 13 in the first half.
Carter wasn't the only banged-up Roadrunner. Shooting guard Javonte Maynor, who had 10 points, has a broken rib; senior guard Tyrone White (10 points) has been fighting an illness; and senior forward Adam Young (five points, four rebounds) is playing through a sprained ankle.
“I was proud of our team today,” said CSUB coach Rod Barnes, whose Roadrunners improved to
8-14. “Guys like Stephon and Javonte Maynor, guys who were injured, wanted to play and did everything they could to get ready to play this game. Even Adam Young.
“That says something about them and says something about how they feel and how important they feel about our program.”
While Carter said he felt like he was at nearly full strength, Barnes didn’t go that far, saying Carter was “about 85 percent.”
“I thought there were some things he couldn’t do like he’s been doing,” Barnes said. “His acceleration to the basket is not the same. And a couple of times he got hung up, and normally he’d get through those guys. ...
“I was going to use him as long as I possibly could. If it was halftime and he couldn’t go, we’d used him as much as we possibly could. But he said he was OK.
“But Steph’s going to say that.”
Utah Valley (10-13), which played four players who were 6-foot-8 or 6-9, was effective pounding the ball inside. But the Wolverines went away from that for much of the final 10 minutes of the first half, and an 11-2 CSUB run keyed a 36-25 halftime lead.
The Wolverines went back to that style of play in the second half and pulled within five on two occasions but got no closer.
“I thought they would try to jam it in because of their size,” Barnes said. “I thought at times we did a good job defending.
“But they were the first team in awhile where that was their game plan. Our post players haven’t played against a team that constantly tries to jam the ball inside like they do and that caught us
off-guard at times.”
Utah Valley also slowed the CSUB offense with a 2-3 zone. That kept CSUB from scoring on several possessions, but the Roadrunners also hit some key 3s when Maynor and White (twice each) were left wide open.
“That (the zone) held us down, slowed us down. We had a good rhythm there,” Barnes said. “It was smart on their coach’s part. ...
“We practiced on it. We thought they might have to go zone. But obviously we didn’t do a good job handling it. ...
“But we made the plays when we had to. When we had to get a defensive rebound, we got it. When we had to m ake a 3 to give us a cushion, we made them.
“As a coach, I’m not comfortable with our zone offense. We got good shots, but we’ve got to be more effective.”