It wasn’t 35 points scored in the first quarter like Cal State Bakersfield’s women’s basketball team did on Jan. 27 against Seattle — a program record. But to CSUB head coach Greg McCall, his team’s performance on Saturday in the Icardo Center was even more special.
The Roadrunners (14-10, 8-2 Western Athletic) dismantled Texas-Rio Grande Valley (11-13, 1-8), taking down the Vaqueros, 71-30. CSUB gave up just four points in each of the first two quarters.
“Keeping them under eight points is amazing,” said CSUB guard Kate Tokuhara, who had a team-high five steals. “You don't really hear that often in Division I basketball.”
The eight first-half points allowed was the best performance by CSUB since at least the 2006-07 season. Game-by-game statistics are not available on GoRunners.com for earlier seasons.
The 30 total points allowed was the fewest given up in program history.
CSUB followed up what McCall called one of the biggest wins in program history on Thursday — a 62-52 victory over then-WAC leader New Mexico State to move into first place — with the best defensive performance by a Roadrunner women’s basketball team.
“Another great win for us,” McCall said after CSUB’s sixth straight victory. “... It’s fun to be able to watch.”
The Roadrunners had the Vaqueros tied for the fewest field goals made in a WAC game (set in 1998-99) at nine until UTRGV’s Megan Johnson made a breakaway layup with one minute left for the team’s last basket of the game.
UTRGV shot 18.5 percent overall and went 0-for-20 from behind the 3-point arc. Ten of the Vaqueros 30 points came from the free throw line.
“I still think we gave up too many 3s,” McCall said.
McCall didn’t realize how much his defense would dominate until the “pretty much the final buzzer,” he said. But it seemed apparent from the start.
Tokuhara ripped the ball away from UTRGV’s Alicia McCray, leading to a layup inside for CSUB freshman center Vanessa Austin. One possession and one Austin basket later, the Roadrunners were already up 9-0 and UTRGV head coach Larry Tidwell called timeout.
The Vaqueros coaches urged their players not to “play with the ball,” referencing how UTRGV’s ball handlers would get stripped at the top of the offense while calling a play. The UTRGV coaches asked each other, “Why can’t we hold onto the ball?”
The first Vaqueros make didn’t come until four and a half minutes into the game.
The first half ended with just three UTRGV field goals and an 11.5 shooting percentage.
“Right now, y’all look defeated,” one UTRGV assistant told the players.
CSUB’s bench outscored UTRGV’s entire team with 32 points. Half of that came thanks to guard Aja Williams, who hit three 3s.
Roadrunners center Jazmyne Bartee had four of CSUB’s season-high eight blocks. The mark was one shy of CSUB’s best team total, which came against UTRGV in 2013.
Borrowing a bit from his mentor and CSUB men’s basketball head coach Rod Barnes, McCall preaches defense. In press conferences, he repeatedly likes to bring up when CSUB held Southern Methodist to zero points in the second quarter on Dec. 3.
Now, he has a new, and possibly more impressive, game to reference.
“We always like to hang our hat on the defense because that’s what gotten us to this point,” McCall said.