Playing in front of a nationally televised audience, Rod Barnes didn't exactly get what he expected out of his team Friday night.
A normally sound Cal State Bakersfield defense broke down in the second half, as Cal State Fullerton shot 63 percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes to top CSUB 90-84 at the Icardo Center
Down just 32-30 at the half, CSUB seemingly put itself in great position to seize the lead after scoring on its first 10 possessions of the second half.
Instead, they gained no ground as the hot-shooting Titans actually maintained a two-point lead at the end of the Roadrunners' first empty possession. And after an open triple by Dante Maddox, his team's eighth of the half, Fullerton had what was then the game's biggest lead at 68-63 with 7:51 to play.
The lead stretched to 75-67 going into the final media timeout and got to double figures shortly after.
"We just didn't defend well," head coach Rod Barnes said after the game. "It's one of those situations that a game started going bad and we couldn't turn it around. We couldn't get enough stops to win the game."
The poor showing spoiled a historic night at Icardo. The game was broadcast on ESPNU, marking the first time a nationally televised game had been played at CSUB. Despite the excitement, players say they didn't find the intensity needed to play on a big stage.
"We didn't have a good week coming up to this and I think it caught us today," said Justin McCall, who scored a career-high 20 points.
Down 10 with just 46 seconds to play, CSUB somehow managed to make things interesting. After Travis Henson and McCall combined for five points in seven seconds, the 'Runners were down just 88-84 and had a chance to cut the deficit to one possession after two missed Titan free throws.
But after getting to the rim cleanly, Taze Moore had his layup attempts blocked by Tory San Antonio. After securing the rebound, Maddox Jr. scored the last two of his game-high 22 to ice the game.
Moore finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. Justin Edler-Davis (14) and Travis Henson (10) also scored in double figures for CSUB, which fell to 10-6 overall and 3-3 win the Big West.
The two teams square off at the Icardo Center again tomorrow, where CSUB is anticipating a better result.
"Level of confidence .. it's always going to be high," Moore said. "To me, to all these dudes, to the coaches. We probably played our best offense this year and our worst defense. If we get both of them on the same track, it'll be hard to play against us. We know that, we just have to focus and get gritty, grind it out."