Trailing by four points with less than three minutes to go, Cal State Bakersfield women’s basketball turned to senior JJ Johnson and Alexxus Gilbert to pull out a season-opening win on Tuesday. Gilbert hit a jumper in the lane and Johnson made a layup and three free throws in the final two minutes to lead CSUB (1-0) to a 76-74 win over Wright State (0-1) in the Icardo Center.
“These two young ladies right here, man they played their butts off,” CSUB head coach Greg McCall said during the postgame press conference, gesturing toward Johnson and Gilbert. “... (Gilbert), our captain, our glue, held everything together.”
Gilbert tied her career high with 18 points, adding five rebounds and three assists. She also turned the ball over four times while playing 38 minutes. Johnson also scored 18 despite being in foul trouble.
Junior college transfer center Nina Carpenter scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds in her debut to make up for sophomore Vanessa Austin fouling out in just nine minutes of playing time.
After the Roadrunners led 41-28 at the half, the Raiders outscored CSUB, 27-13, in the third quarter.
“When they caught up and we had to call a timeout, I was like, ‘You guys thought this was going to be a cake walk. You’re wrong.’ And they all shook their heads like, ‘It wasn't going to be a cake walk. ‘We knew that,"’ McCall said. "That’s when I knew we were ready to go, because they didn't look shocked about the fact that Wright State made a comeback.”
CSUB scored 50 of its 76 points in the paint and led by a much as 16 in the second quarter. Wright State managed 23 offensive rebounds and 16 second chance points.
The Roadrunners will face UC Santa Barbara on the road on Friday at 7 p.m.