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CSUB slide continues with 60-50 loss to Sacramento State

Against Pacific, it was the second quarter; Pepperdine, the third; UNLV, the first. Throughout the Cal State Bakersfield women's basketball team's losing streak, it has been plagued by quarter-long offensive slumps.

The Roadrunners fell victim to such a collapse once again in their game against Sacramento State Wednesday night, shooting 1-of-13 in the third quarter while getting outscored 21-6, relinquishing their narrow lead and losing 60-50 at the Icardo Center.

The Hornets (4-6) were missing their leading scorer, Lianna Tillman, and rotated just seven players. But even before its offensive cold streak, CSUB had trouble in the post on defense, allowing slashing guard Summer Menke (16 points, 11 rebounds) and forceful 6-foot-5 center Isnelle Natabou (17 points, 10 rebounds in just 28 minutes) to keep the game close.

Jayden Eggleston led the Roadrunners with 14 points but shot 5-of-17 from the field. The team's shooting issues nullified the work of an aggressive CSUB defense that forced 15 turnovers and turned them into 17 points. 

CSUB coach Greg McCall put it simply: "We have to be able to score points in order to match our defensive effort."

The Roadrunners (1-6) have lost six straight games and are looking for their first win against a Division I opponent. McCall said he hasn't been in such a position in a long time but promised to fix it.

Early Wednesday night, it was actually CSUB attacking in the paint through Soli Herrera, who got the start at center and finished a drive through contact early, making the ensuing free throw to tie the game at 5. The Hornets struggled with the Roadrunners' press early, and CSUB used a pair of steals by Andie Easley to surge into the lead. But Jordan Olivares sank a three to even the score at 13 while, at the other end, Alicja Falkowska blocked a pair of shots in the post from Vanessa Austin, after previously having only one block all season.

The Roadrunners took the lead back in the second quarter with a sudden three-point barrage: out of a timeout, Andie Easley gave CSUB a 20-19 lead from long range, then Sage Bridges-Bey came off the bench to add two more 3-pointers to help keep the Roadrunners in front. They led 28-23 at halftime.

CSUB started strong in the third when a Jessica Rios turnover led to a strong drive by Easley for a layup.

"I told them, 'It's really big that we get this first stop,' and we did that," McCall said. "From there we just kind of hit a wall again."

It took 15 minutes and five seconds for the Roadrunners to make another field goal.

In the meantime, Natabou, who had earned some tough buckets in the post in the second, really started to assert herself in the paint. She had six points in a 12-0 run that gave Sacramento State a 35-30 lead and forced a timeout from McCall.

"We dug ourselves a deep hole because we couldn't hit shots, and then they started making their shots," McCall said.

The Hornets started getting hot from outside as well. Rios hit two threes and Katie Peneuta added another, more than offsetting four free throws from Eggleston, as Sacramento State concluded the quarter outscoring the Roadrunners 21-6.

The Hornets didn't let up in the next period, thanks to another surge from Natabou, whose shots through contact made it a 15-point game before CSUB finally broke the drought on a 3-pointer by Miracle Saxon. The Hornets only needed one more layup from Menke and then a slew of free throws to wrap up the game at 60-50, even as Eggleston, Saxon and Lexus Green tacked on some more baskets late.

McCall said he's seen signs of improvement over the course of the losing streak. They will need to manifest soon, as just two games remain before Big West play. Next up is a home matchup on Saturday against Fresno State, which itself has lost five straight games.

Reporter Henry Greenstein can be reached at 661-395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @HenryGreenstein.