As Cal State Bakersfield freshman Jarkel Joiner dribbled past midcourt the CSUB student section behind the Idaho bench in the Icardo Center on Saturday night repeatedly chanted, “that’s game.”
“Go to work,” Roadrunners head coach Rod Barnes called out to Joiner, who dished to an open Brent Wrapp at the 3-point line.
Wrapp, who had taken just nine 3s in the 11 previous games and made only three of them, nailed the jumper with 53 seconds left. Now, it really was game as CSUB took its biggest lead of the night at 13 points.
“Whenever he shoots, I trust him whether it goes in or not because I know it’s gonna be a good shot,” Barnes said of Wrapp. “ He’s not gonna take a bad shot. He’s one of those winners. He’s one of those guys that when you need it, it’s probably gonna go in.”
Barnes promised an exciting game. A “show” and “battle,” he called it beforehand. Three technical fouls, 18 3-pointers and 40 minutes later, CSUB (6-6) delivered with a 66-55 win over Idaho (6-3) in the Icardo Center.
The Roadrunners beat the Vandals for the second time in just more than two weeks. The first time around, redshirt freshman Justin Davis hit the game-winning 3 with two seconds left for the 64-62 win in the Great Alaska Shootout.
“Gutsy game. Really competitive game. Really hard fought game,” Barnes said. “... I just saw a determination to win like I had never seen tonight.”
Damiyne Durham turned in one of his best performances of the year, scoring a team-high 19 points on five 3s and matching up with Idaho star Victor Sanders on defense.
Durham pulled CSUB out of a 14-8 hole early on with three of his 3s. The last of the trio forced the Vandals to call timeout with 6:44 left in the first half. The Roadrunners continued out of the time out on its 15-0 run and did not trail for the rest of the game.
He led the team with six rebounds and three steals despite playing through a nagging knee injury. When Idaho ran him off the 3-point line, Durham responded with swished floaters in the lane.
“Tonight he was all around,” Wrapp said. “... That’s just sort of the maturation process of his game that we’re seeing.”
Barnes called the Roadrunners’ defense great. Wrapp called it good. It forced 27 turnovers and the offense scored 33 points off of those turnovers.
CSUB held a Vandals team that scored 91 in a win over Washington State three days earlier to its lowest point total of the season.
“There was just a different level of intensity there,” Barnes said.
In a physical battle, tempers flared when CSUB center Fallou Ndoye and Idaho’s Arkadiy Mkrtychyan got tangled underneath in the second half. Mkrtychyan emerged red-faced and fuming.
The referees explained to Barnes that Ndoye had thrown an elbow and Mkrtychyan responded aggressively like he wanted to fight. Both players earned technical fouls but Joiner made four straight free throws for CSUB because Idaho head coach Don Verlin became irate during the official’s’ explanation to the head coaches.
Verlin, who won two Division II national championships at CSUB as an assistant coach from 1992-1994, was showered with boos. Mkrtychyan and Sanders appeared to exchange words with fans at the time and police officers lingered near the Idaho bench for the rest of the game.
CSUB redshirt freshman Justin Davis made up for a 1-for-9 shooting, 16-minute performance from starting forward Shon Briggs. Davis scored 10 points in 26 minutes.
“We were ready for it tonight and I think we answered the challenge,” Wrapp said.