The Cal State Bakersfield women's basketball team continues to play at a high level and national pundits are taking notice.
Riding a six-game win streak, the 8-3 Roadrunners are currently projected to earn the No. 16 seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament by ESPN Bracketolgist Charlie Creme. Creme projects CSUB will earn the automatic bid in the WAC and face Oregon, currently the No. 3 team in the country, in the opening round.
Though a March Madness bid is entirely dependent on the Roadrunners winning the conference tournament, coach Greg McCall says he takes the prediction as a sign of respect.
“That’s a great honor," McCall said. "It’s good to know that they think we have an opportunity to win it. We’ve just got to go out there and continue to try to improve each and every game, each and every practice to go out there and accomplish that goal.”
One of just three WAC teams to have a winning record entering Wednesday, the Roadrunners completed an undefeated run through a six-game home stand Saturday, as they edged future Big West opponent UC Santa Barbara 66-62.
CSUB outscored UCSB 18-9 in the third quarter to break a halftime tie, then closed the game out at the foul line, as Lexus Green and Miracle Saxon each hit a pair of free throws in the final seconds after the Gauchos got within one possession.
After getting more than two weeks off, the Roadrunners will get a taste of what a potential NCAA Tournament game will be like on Dec. 29. Awaiting them will be another projected No. 1 seed from the Pacific Northwest in Oregon State, which currently sits at 9-0 and ranked fourth in the nation.
"They are really, really good," McCall said of the Beavers. "We really have to be on our A-game and really lock in on our assignments that we have...on the defensive end especially. It's going to be tough.”
BC wrestlers take third at state
Bakersfield College coach Brett Clark went into the CCCAA State Wrestling Tournament over the weekend hoping for a top-three finish and he wasn't disappointed.
Behind three All-American performances, including a first-place showing by Jonathan Hunter at 174 pounds, the Renegades took third place with 77 points, coming in behind only Fresno City (186) and Cerritos (137).
Hunter, a Golden Valley graduate, all but guaranteed an individual title, and delivered on his bold prediction, winning all three matches by pinfall. He finished tied for the most votes for Most Outstanding Wrestler, but the honor went to Jacob Hansen, the 165-pound champion from Moorpark.
“He did what he said he was going to do," Clark said of Hunter. "He said he was going to win and he said he was going to pin everybody and he did.”
Jordan Annis had BC's second best showing, placing second at 184. Fellow Bakersfield High School graduate Ricardo Gonzalez also earned All-American honors, placing fourth at 197.
Elsewhere, Adrian Gonzales (Bakersfield) placed fifth at 149, while Keithen Estrada (East) was seventh at 125.
After being hit with injuries and surprise departures early in the year, Clark said his team responded well to adversity and that experienced wrestlers helped lead the Renegades through some early challenges.
“Our wrestling IQ was great this year because we have guys that have wrestled," he said. "Our mat awareness and (our ability) to win, it was great this year. It exceeded what we thought it would have been with the guys we had."
• Three Bakersfield College athletes signed with four-year schools. Defensive lineman Holden Williams (Taft) signed with FCS football team Portland State, while women's soccer players Ashley Quintanilla (East) and Lissette Garcia (Highland) signed with NAIA Kansas Wesleyan.
• The Bakersfield College men's basketball team bounced back from its first losses of the season with wins over Oxnard (85-76), Porterville (84-61) and West Hills Coalinga 78-63. The wins moved the Renegades' record to 9-2.