Cal State Bakersfield men’s basketball is in unchartered territory.
The Roadrunners are 0-4 to start Western Athletic Conference play for the first time since joining the conference and their six-game losing streak is the program’s worst since 2013.
Fortunately for CSUB, its next opponent, Chicago State, also hasn’t won a WAC game. The Roadrunners are on the road at Chicago State at noon on Saturday. A win will be a much-needed first WAC victory. A loss would make CSUB the conference’s only winless team and place the Roadrunners at rock bottom in the standings.
“Chicago State obviously has had a lot of struggles,” CSUB head coach Rod Barnes said Tuesday before his team left for its away games. “... They always fight us tough. They always play hard. It’s always tough for us in Chicago.”
CSUB is just 7-12 on the season. But Chicago State is 2-19 with its two wins coming over an NAIA team and a Chicago college’s intramural team. The Cougars’ last two losses have come by a combined 53 points and they haven’t won a Division I game in more than one year.
Outside of the conference’s leader in field goal attempts, Fred Sims, Jr., Chicago State doesn’t have many other go-to players. The Cougars do have head coach Tracy Dildy, who was one of Barnes’ assistants at Ole Miss.
“Their coach knows me, so he kind of has an inside track on what we might be doing,” Barnes said.
Chicago State is last in the conference in most statistical categories, including field goal percentage, turnovers and scoring margin. CSUB has actually averaged fewer points per game than the Cougars, though, at just 64.8 per game.
Barnes said Tuesday that every time his team plays in Chicago, it has to rely on its experienced players to take charge.
“We’re gonna need for Brent Wrapp and Shon Briggs to really step up and you know play well there,” Barnes said. “It’s more of a leadership thing.”
A plus for CSUB is that sharpshooter Damiyne Durham returned Thursday from his two-game suspension.
CSUB women looking to bounce back against lowly Chicago State
On Tuesday, CSUB women’s basketball head coach Greg McCall was already talking about winning the next two games and “looking forward being 4-1” in conference play.
Come Thursday night, though, his team slipped up against Missouri-Kansas City at home on a shot with fewer than two seconds remaining in the game.
The Roadrunners will regroup for a 1 p.m. game against Chicago State in the Icardo Center on Saturday. Chicago State is on a 54-game losing streak and last won in February 2016.
“We better,” McCall said Thursday night of bouncing back against Chicago State. “I’ll tell you that. We better. We better bounce back. We better be ready to go.”
CSUB had leads in the final few minutes of each of its last two games, but lost both. Chicago State hasn’t scored more than 36 points in its last two games and averages fewer than 50 points per game.