Cal State Bakersfield men’s basketball head coach Rod Barnes was “really concerned” with Seattle coming to Bakersfield for the start of Western Athletic Conference play.
The Redhawks were 12-3, off to their best start in more than 50 years and coming off a win at Cal. CSUB was 8-5 and coming off a 35-point loss at Gonzaga.
It was a “tall task,” Barnes said. The Roadrunners needed to be on their “A game”.
Yet it was Seattle that left the court on Thursday night with concerns.
CSUB (9-5, 1-0) made a statement to open WAC competition, beating Seattle (12-4, 0-1), 83-71, at home in the Icardo Center. The Redhawks weren’t at full strength with one of their top players — Matej Kavas — playing just three and a half minutes (all in the first half) after missing the previous game because of an ankle injury. But it was still a dominant showing by the Roadrunners.
“I don't know if a statement’s been set,” Barnes said. “We’re just happy we got the win. They’re going to be tough to come by each and every night.”
It was “maybe one of our better games overall,” Barnes added.
CSUB sharpshooter Damiyne Durham made four 3-pointers and was 7-for-12 from the field for 20 points. Durham tied the WAC career record with 290 career made 3-pointers. Sophomore guard Jarkel Joiner was also 7-for-12 for 16 points and senior point guard Rickey Holden had seven assists.
Seattle junior guard Morgan Means, who averaged a team-high 16.9 points per game coming in, scored just seven points. He didn’t make a field goal and did not score until a free throw with less than eight minutes left in the game.
CSUB had a 24-point advantage with three minutes left in the game, leading for a total of more than 37 minutes.
“It’s a huge win,” CSUB redshirt freshman Darrin Person Jr. said. “I feel like it’s a statement for our team. I see ourselves getting better.”
The ability of Joiner and Durham to take over games is well known to CSUB’s opponents. In the first half, Seattle coach Jim Hayford stomped his foot on the sideline as Durham broke open off a screen. The pass hadn’t even been thrown yet and Hayford continued stomping as Durham made the 3-pointer.
Joiner thrived on isolation and scored 10 in the first half. He also played tight on Means for part of the contest. Means was 0-for-4 from the field with five turnovers. Even when Means was off the ball, help defense by CSUB shifted in his direction.
“I respect Morgan Means,” Joiner said. “We just tried to shut him down. There was a lot of (the) team on Morgan Means.”
With a career-high 10 points, four rebounds and one block in 14 minutes, it was a breakout performance for Person. He could have been credited with additional rebounds and blocks.
With about five minutes left in the first half, Person swatted Terrell Brown’s layup off the backboard from behind. The loose ball headed toward the foul line where another Seattle player picked it up. Person reset to tip the ensuing floater aside and then knocked the ball away from the next Redhawk to get the ball.
Joiner took it the other way and drew the third foul on Means. Barnes walked almost to midcourt applauding Person.
“Go get it, man,” Person said. “We gotta protect our paint.”
CSUB shot 52.5 percent in the game and made eight 3-pointers. Seattle shot 39.2 percent and made eight 3s. Several of the Redhawks 3-pointers came in garbage time, though.
The Roadrunners will host Utah Valley on Saturday at 7 p.m. CSUB lost three times to UVU last season, including a blowout to start WAC play.
“You got to be excited about every win this year,” Barnes said. “Every time you get one, you better smile and rejoice and be happy about it because the next team coming at you, they’re hungry for a win.”