While it was a buzzer-beater that ultimately did in the Cal State Bakersfield women’s basketball against New Mexico State on Saturday in the Icardo Center, it was a lethargic early-game effort that was most responsible for the Roadrunners losing the game according to their coach Greg McCall.
CSUB committed 25 turnovers through the first three quarters but cleaned up its ballhandling in the fourth period and rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit to take the lead away from the Aggies late before losing in dramatic fashion on Adenike Aderinto’s shot from the low block off an in-bounds pass underneath New Mexico State’s basket.
Aderinto’s game-winning shot lifted the Aggies to a 61-59 Western Athletic Conference victory.
“We consistently dig ourselves in holes that we have to play our butts off in order for us to really start playing basketball,” McCall said. “When that happens, it puts a lot of strain (on us) “…We allow teams to do what they want to do. Get what they want to get. Easy transition buckets. Easy fast break buckets. It hurts us. That last possession didn’t win or lose us the game. It was just another possession that cost us because had so many other opportunities.”
New Mexico State (10-6, 2-1 WAC) led 38-28 at halftime, matching its biggest advantage of the first half.
The two teams traded the lead twice early in the game. Malaysia McHenry gave CSUB the lead, 5-2, with a 3-pointer from the left corner.
The Aggies responded immediately with a 10-0 run, fueled by the scoring of Brooke Salas, who had 14 points in the first half.
CSUB, which committed 17 turnovers in the first half, continued to struggle against New Mexico State’s full-court press early in the second half.
But after falling behind by 16 points, the ‘Runners closed out the third quarter on an 8-0 run, behind a defensive effort and the hot shooting of senior guard Alexxus Gilbert.
Gilbert, who finished with a game-high 21 points, kept the CSUB (6-11, 2-2 WAC) rally going in the fourth quarter by connecting on a 16-foot jump shot that cut the New Mexico State lead to 51-49.
Later, after five quick points inside by Vanessa Austin made it a one-point game, Gilbert gave CSUB its first lead since early in the first quarter with a point-basket from the top of the key.
For the rest of the way the two teams battled back and forth, with neither able to gain a substantial advantage on the scoreboard.
The game was tied most of the latter part of the fourth quarter.
CSUB had several chances to break the deadlock but failed to connect on would-be go-ahead shot attempts.
“We have to do a good job of protecting our home floor,” McCall said. “We did not do that today. Hats off to New Mexico State. They came in here with a chip on the shoulder. They came and played. But I thought, in 40 minutes, at times, I thought we outplayed them. We outplayed them in the third and fourth quarters.”
Austin finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Gilbert played all 40 minutes and had eight rebounds to go along with her big scoring total.