It was only a matter of time until the Cal State Bakersfield women’s basketball team put its game against Division II Fresno Pacific comfortably out of reach.
The problem was, that time didn’t really come until Malaysia McHenry hit a shot with 3:36 left to give the Roadrunners a 17-point lead.
CSUB (1-1) beat Fresno Pacific (0-3), 74-63 in its home opener at the Icardo Center on Tuesday night. It was a less than convincing victory over a Sunbirds team that won just five games during the 2016-17 campaign.
“It would be better to actually blow this team out,” CSUB sophomore guard Daije Harris said. “I have a lot of respect for Fresno (Pacific). They’re a Division II team and they came in playing extremely hard.”
The Roadrunners built leads of 11 points in the second quarter and 12 points in the third, but could never fully pull away. The Sunbirds actually held a lead until less than one minute to go in the first quarter.
McHenry, a junior college guard/forward transfer, led CSUB with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the floor and added seven rebounds. Harris scored 12, shooting 5-for-9.
“You kind of look at your opponent sometimes,” CSUB head coach Greg McCall said. “It always happens in every aspect of the sport. ... You're like ‘OK, we should be able to do whatever we want to do but.’”
But the Roadrunners couldn’t. They fell behind 13-8 early on behind defensive mistakes. FPU penetrated the lane for baskets despite being a smaller team.
CSUB tried out a matchup zone for about a half, which was “hit and miss,” McCall said.
“We allowed them to get some things that they shouldn't have gotten,” McCall said. “Getting the ball to the middle of the floor, things like that.”
The Sunbirds worked the perimeter for nine 3s but on 31 attempts.
It was the offense that carried the Roadrunners and the paint was where the brunt of its success was found. CSUB scored 48 points down low.
McHenry grabbed a rebound on a Kate Tokuhara shot and put it back up. She missed the layup, but came down with that rebound and laid the ball in for the 71-54 lead — CSUB’s largest of the game.
It was also one of several possessions where the CSUB was able to come down with multiple rebounds. The Roadrunners had more offensive rebounds (25) than defensive (21).
“It came down to us finishing layups,” Harris said, “which coach preached about a lot.”
McHenry wasn’t satisfied with the post play and said the perimeter players facilitated the inside effort.
The later in the game it got, the more effectively the CSUB guards were able to use screens from the bigs and turn them into easy layups.
The game gave McCall a clear picture of areas that need improvement on the defensive end ahead of a game against San Jose State on Friday. He’s anticipating that San Jose State will try to turn the game into a track meet.
“We want to be disciplined,” McCall said. “They know they could have did a lot better.”