Having proven itself capable of handling its business at home, the Cal State Bakersfield women's basketball team is hopeful a recent stretch will bring some needed consistency on the road.
After going 0-5 away from home in non-conference play, including an ugly, late-game collapse against a three-win UC Riverside team, the Roadrunners finally got over the hump away for the Icardo Center at the start of WAC play, squeaking by Grand Canyon and Cal Baptist to jump out to a 2-0 start in conference.
Each game had a similar trajectory, where CSUB built up a nine-point fourth quarter lead, then held on after its opponent closed the gap.
Grand Canyon battled back to tie the game with two minutes to play, only for Ashley Austin to hit a clutch 3-pointer with 34 seconds remaining that sealed a 59-54 win.
Four days later, Cal Baptist got within a point on three separate occasions in the fourth quarter. But CSUB held strong, as a Miracle Saxon block set up two late Jayden Eggleston free throws in a 66-61 win.
"It feels really good," coach Greg McCall said of the road wins. "It's something (we hadn't) done all year. Now we have to step up to a very confident team that is coming into our place and to protect our home floor that we're undefeated on."
The confident team looking to hand CSUB its first home loss is Missouri-Kansas City, which at 3-1 is one game behind the 'Runners and Utah Valley (3-0) in the loss column in the WAC standings.
The Kangaroos are led by one of the best players in the league in Ericka Mattingly, the preseason WAC Player of the Year. Mattingly is currently third in the league in scoring (15.3 points per game) and fourth in assists (4.3)
UMKC has also proven quite resilient in conference play, overcoming a 14-point halftime deficit to beat Texas Rio Grande Valley 60-56 on Jan. 9.
With a team that expects to be atop the WAC standings by season's end, McCall says his players are ready for the challenge of facing the 'Roos, and all other conference teams.
"They’re a really confident team," he said of the 'Runners. "I think they’ve decided in their minds they’re trying to go undefeated (in the WAC). That’s the mark of a really good team to me, wanting something way more than the coach.”
Thursday's game tips at 7 p.m.
Zepeda, Camarillo to team up at Western Oregon
Penelope Zepeda and Lanie Camarillo aren't ready to split up just yet.
One of the top outside hitter pairs in the Western State Conference in 2019, Zepeda and Camarillo, graduates of Frontier and Liberty High School respectively, announced their commitments to Division II Western Oregon on Monday.
Zepeda, the WSC South Player of the Year, had 307 kills, 250 digs and 39 aces for the Renegades last season. Camarillo, a First-Team All WSC South selection, had 234 kills and 92 digs on a BC team that went 21-3 this fall.
• The CSUB men's basketball team is on the road this week, facing UMKC at 5 p.m. Thursday and Chicago State at 10 a.m. Saturday. Coach Rod Barnes announced Tuesday that forward Greg Lee, who's started 10 games this season, is questionable to play on Thursday with a foot injury.
• CSUB sophomore Ariane Skegges was named WAC Swimmer of the Week after winning the 200- and 500-meter freestyle in a Saturday win over UC Santa Cruz.
• Dasia Wandick had a team-high 19 points to lead the BC women's basketball team to a 65-40 win over Citrus Saturday. It was the first conference win of the season for the 7-9 Renegades.
• The BC baseball team travels to face Fresno in a season-opening scrimmage at 3 p.m. Wednesday. The Renegades open the regular season on Jan. 21.
• CSUB wrestling will host Duke at 2 p.m. Sunday on the team's Social Media Night.