Cal State Bakersfield head coach Rod Barnes spent the last two days telling his players to simply take open shots. For the last couple weeks, he felt his team turned down too many open looks and was playing too tense.
“I told them, ‘Man, just shoot the basketball. If it goes in, it goes in,’” Barnes said.
So when CSUB’s Rickey Holden and Justin Davis caught passes behind the 3-point line in the final few minutes and they heard Barnes, again, telling them to shoot it, they did. The two knocked down three 3s with fewer than two and a half minutes to go to convert a two-point deficit into a five-point lead.
Thanks to those shots, the Roadrunners (12-16, 5-8 Western Athletic) beat Seattle (19-11, 8-5), 64-57, in the Icardo Center on Saturday night. It was CSUB’s final home game of the regular season. Davis had a career-high 21 points and Holden — back in the starting lineup instead of freshman Jarkel Joiner — had a career-high 19.
With five minutes left, CSUB faced its largest deficit of the game: five points. Davis knocked down two free throws and guard Damiyne Durham hit a high-arching floater to whittle it to one.
After Seattle added a free throw, Holden’s first 3-pointer on the next possession rattled in and out but CSUB center Moataz Aly picked up the loose ball for the rebound. Point guard Brent Wrapp swung it over to Holden and two Seattle defenders ran to the corner, leaving Holden unguarded at the top of the arc.
“Dang, I’m open,” Holden thought to himself. “I can hear Coach Barnes (yelling) like ‘knock it down,’ so I shot it.”
It gave CSUB a one-point lead.
The next possession, Davis caught the ball at the top with just a few seconds left on the shot clock. About five feet back from the 3-point line, Davis pumped to draw contact and heaved an off-balance shot that swished through.
“I had no idea that the shot clock was running down until Coach told me so I took a step back to see the shot clock, how much time I had left,” Davis said. “I just pump faked and I just threw it up. I thought it was gonna airball.”
Then came another Holden 3-pointer, this time from the right wing. It put CSUB ahead 60-55 with 48.9 seconds left. Aly put Holden in a headlock at midcourt to celebrate.
Wrapp, a redshirt senior, finished with seven assists and 11 rebounds. He had a talk with Davis during the game that spurred the redshirt freshman’s career day. Center Fallou Ndoye injured his ankle in the first half and did not return, though Barnes said he got word from the trainer that Ndoye could go back in.
“Brent Wrapp, he’s our coach,” Barnes said. “I’m just over there. … This wasn’t my night. This was his night. He pretty much led us to the victory. He’s the one that talked to the players. He’s the one saying the right thing to tell our guys that we needed to finish.”