For the second straight game, the Cal State Bakersfield men's basketball team dug itself a sizable first-half hole.
But unlike their conference-opening win against Grand Canyon on Saturday, the Roadrunners couldn't pull themselves out against Cal Baptist Wednesday.
The 'Runners fell behind by double-figures at halftime and an early second-half rally fell short, as Cal Baptist earned an 83-75 win at the Icardo Center Wednesday night.
After jumping ahead 9-2 early, CSUB endured a prologued offensive drought, resulting in a first half where it shot just 10-of-31 from the floor.
The struggles extended to the defensive end as well. The Lancers at one point scored on seven consecutive possessions, and used an 11-0 run to build a 40-26 lead at the half.
While disappointed in the offense, CSUB coach Rod Barnes felt the defensive effort played the biggest role in his team falling behind by such a large margin.
"Forty points in the first half is just way too many," he said. "When you're on the road, if you come in and dictate that kind of tempo and play that way, that's not very good (for us)."
Perhaps most disappointing was that a lot of the offense came from an unexpected source. Bul Kuol, who'd played in just two games going into Wednesday, went 5-of-5 from the field with two 3-pointers in the first half. He stayed perfect with another 3 in the second half to finish with 17 points, more than doubling his season scoring total of eight.
“I feel like (there were) some guys we weren’t really too focused on and they were getting a lot of open shots that really put them in a comfortable lead which really hurt us in a bad way,” CSUB guard De'Monte Buckingham said.
Like Saturday's game against Grand Canyon, where the 'Runners fell behind by 12 then closed on a 13-0 run to win 69-62, CSUB put together another big run in the second half.
Taze Moore, who scored just one point in the first half, had 22 in the second. He scored 10 of those points in the first 4:49 of the second half, as the Roadrunners cut the deficit all the way down to 46-45.
But that would be as close as it would get, and when Brandon Boyd, who led Cal Baptist with 23 points, connected on a jumper with eight minutes remaining, the lead was back to 64-54.
Buckingham tied Moore for the team lead with 23 points, while Czar Perry scored 14 with seven assists. The backcourt trio didn't get much help though, as no other Roadrunner scored more than five points.
A big reason for the imbalance was the result of front court players getting into foul trouble. Starting center Shawn Stith picked up his fourth foul just 45 seconds into the second half. He finished with just two points in 10 minutes of play.
“We got where we couldn’t go in (the paint)," Barnes said. "I’m pressing (Stith) to understand he can’t get in foul trouble and get bad fouls. And I thought we had some bad fouls tonight.”
Though hoping for more consistency, Barnes believes his team, which fell to 7-10 overall, is still trending in the right direction, and hopes it can make further strides heading into its first WAC road trip.
"I thought we had a good game and our good game wasn't good enough. I saw a lot of resilience and a lot of fight. But we also showed we've got work we've got to do."
The Roadrunners have eight days off before traveling to face UM-Kansas City next Thursday.