Call it a tuneup for a higher quality opponent.
Cal State Bakersfield romped to a 97-54 victory over NAIA member UC Merced on Monday night in the Roadrunners' home opener before 1,818 at the Icardo Center.
The outcome of the game was never in doubt. CSUB (1-1) had a 33-12 lead with eight minutes left in the first half and built a 50-point advantage before settling for the 43-point victory over the Golden Bobcats (0-3).
"I was trying to get a lot of guys playing time," CSUB coach Rod Barnes said. "I was trying to gain some confidence for our team because we took a tough loss (Friday) at Washington State. We wanted to come back and correct some things."
The going figures to be tougher on Wednesday when the Roadrunners play host to Sacramento State.
"That's going to be a tough game," Barnes said. "This is a team that beat us by 18 to 20 points last year (85-67). ... Hopefully, we'll be ready and rested and be ready for battle."
Merced simply lacked the athleticism and skill against Bakersfield.
CSUB hit 38-of-66 shots, had a 49-22 rebounding advantage and improved from the free throw line, hitting 11-of-16 after an 11-of-28 performance in Friday's 62-56 loss at Washington State.
Perhaps the brightest spot for CSUB was its high-intensity play for most of the game.
Merced basically abandoned any attempt to get the ball inside until the last six minutes, when the Bobcats had their best stretch of the game to trim the final margin to 43.
"Our focus is to play as hard as we can for 40 minutes," Barnes said. "I thought the guys did a great job tonight of being focused, staying out there and playing together.
"That's the fun thing about basketball: seeing it come together."
Senior captain Brandon Barnes, the coach's son, said Merced was not the focal point Monday.
"What we were trying to accomplish is getting better as a team," said Brandon Barnes, who had five points and a game-high 13 rebounds. "We were focused on Merced, but we were more focused on ourselves."
Senior guard Issiah Grayson, who was only 1-of-6 from the floor but had a game-high seven assists, said the loss to Washington State provided incentive to the squad.
"We dropped the egg against Washington State. We just wanted to improve and come out hard."
Rod Barnes said the improvement was obvious.
"Free throws improved," he said. "Turnovers improved. Rebounding improved. We're just trying to get better. It will take us some time to get a great flow. I changed our lineup to just try and get a better start and I thought we did that."
Senior guard Matt Ratto, who didn't enter the game until less than 11 minutes remained, hit 5-of-6 3-pointers to finish with a team-leading 15 points.
Tyrell Corbin, Abdul Ahmed and Erik Kinney had 12 points each, and Zech Smith scored 10.
Merced guard Griffin Alexander had a game-high 20 points, the only Bobcat player to score in double figures.