Sloppy play at inopportune times continued to hamper a Cal State Bakersfield team still searching for its first win against a Division I opponent.
The Roadrunners committed 20-plus turnovers for the second consecutive game, as Sam Houston State came into the Icardo Center and earned a 74-65 win over CSUB in men's basketball play Tuesday.
Justin McCall, who had a team-high 14 points, delivered his second ferocious dunk of the night off an offensive rebound with 4:56 to go, cutting the Bearkat lead to 54-53.
McCall then attempted to give CSUB the lead the next time it had the ball, but his jumper rimmed off. On the ensuing possession, Chad Bowie got into the paint and hit a layup that kick-started a 7-2 run that put the game away.
Though they fought back from an 11-point deficit to take the lead in the second half, the Roadrunners put themselves in a bad position with another sluggish offensive game. Following a 27-turnover debacle in a Saturday loss to Gonzaga, they turned it over 22 times Tuesday.
A giveaway with 3:42 remaining led to a pair of Bearkat free throws at the other end, giving them a multi-possession lead they held the rest of the way.
Roadrunner players said they don't feel there's a specific reason for the struggles with ball control, but know its imperative they fix them as quickly as possible.
"Right about now it’s time for men to be men and just put stuff aside that we don’t need to be worried about and just play basketball,” guard Taze Moore said. “It’s just us, man. It’s not the crowd it’s not other teams, it’s just us. We’ve just got to figure out how to play as one and be calm.”
The loss, CSUB's third in a row, dropped the Roadrunners to 2-5, which includes an 0-5 mark against Division I opponents.
While happy with some elements of Tuesday's performance, particularly on the defensive end, Roadrunner coach Rod Barnes agreed with Moore's assessment that his team had to find another gear to get over its recent struggles.
“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do," he said. "And we’ve just got to get through this and hopefully get a win and get a little bit more confident. We were kind of unsure of ourselves a little bit.”
Buckingham limited with a hip injury
One big impediment for CSUB on Tuesday was a hip injury to starting guard De'Monte Buckingham.
After he sustained the injury last week, Barnes tried to use Buckingham as a reserve, but he didn't feel like he was able to move as fluidly as he would have liked. As a result, Buckingham saw the floor for just 3:19 and didn't play in the second half.
Calling the guard "day-to-day," Barnes is hopeful to have him back before a Friday matchup with Hampton, but insists he'd only play if fully healthy.
“I don’t want to take a chance with someone like him," Barnes said. "As a coach, I’m looking on the long haul, not only for him. He’s very important to what we do and I’m not going to let him be out on the floor and not be able to compete at the level I think he should.”