LAS VEGAS — Come Friday, Cal State Bakersfield’s women’s basketball team will likely face a tight game, head coach Greg McCall thinks. He already has one plan in mind if and when that situation arises against No. 3 Grand Canyon in the semifinals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.
“Get the stop that we need without fouling,” McCall said. “That’s what it might boil down to.”
It’s what CSUB couldn’t do less than a week ago on March 3 when GCU came to Bakersfield and beat the Roadrunners in double-overtime. The loss knocked CSUB out of the top spot in the WAC and kept the Roadrunners from capturing their first Division I regular season conference championship in women’s basketball history.
Friday at noon at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, No. 2 CSUB (17-12, 10-4) will look for payback against the Antelopes (16-13, 9-5). A win would secure the Roadrunners their first appearance in a WAC title game.
“It was a heartbreaker for us because it was a game for us to make history and they did a good job of stopping that,” McCall said. “... We can't just tighten up so much where we just don't come out ready to go or we be too antsy. We still gotta play our game.”
CSUB led by six at one point in the fourth quarter against No. 7 Texas-Rio Grande Valley in the first round on Wednesday, and held on for a 70-59 win. GCU beat No. 2 Utah Valley 72-56 a couple hours earlier.
McCall has described GCU as an up-and-down team. The Roadrunners beat the Lopes by 29 on the road Feb. 17 before the 77-76 home loss on March 3. A few CSUB players had shots to win the game but missed. GCU’s last five points of the first overtime came on free throws and the game-winning point was secured at the line.
“No one plans to make a mistake on the court,” CSUB redshirt senior Jazmyne Bartee said. “Mistakes happen and I feel like that’s what happened, is we were making too many mistakes on the court.”
GCU has been led by senior guard Bri Mobley’s 17 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this season. Redshirt senior guard Jessica Gajewski has added 15.1 points per game. The two combined for 34 points in the win over CSUB and 36 in their first round win over UVU.
“Just continue to play hard on the defensive and offensive end,” CSUB forward Malayasia McHenry said of the key to the game. “No letups. Keep it going.”