At midcourt, Cal State Bakersfield head coach Rod Barnes waved his arms back and forth at waist height, repeating, “That ain’t no good” to himself, to his team and most importantly to the officials. He inched closer to the replay monitor to try to see the video the officials were looking at, but his words were probably more hopeful than confident.
In a matter of seconds, the referees confirmed that New Mexico State’s 3-pointer by Trevelin Queen left his hand before time ran out. The Aggies’ (19-4, 8-1 Western Athletic) shot handed the Roadrunners (15-8, 6-3) a devastating 71-70 loss in overtime at the Icardo Center on Thursday night.
“A loss like this, it hurts so much,” said CSUB’s Justin Edler-Davis, his eyes red and his voice breaking up at times. “You want it to be over. You don’t want to think about it anymore.”
With 21.3 seconds left in overtime, CSUB called timeout. The game was tied at 68-68 and there were 15 seconds left on the shot clock. Out of the timeout, CSUB guard Jarkel Joiner took the ball in isolation. He pump faked on what would have been his typical pull-up shot. New Mexico State’s Terrell Brown jumped by. Joiner then hit the jumper for the 70-68 lead with eight seconds left. It was his 25th point of the game.
The Aggies moved quick up the court working it from the left side over to the right. Queen got it at the top in front of the NMSU bench, hitting the 3-pointer before getting obliterated by his teammates.
“Shot ourselves in the foot a little bit but we still had a chance to win the game,” Edler-Davis said. “Jarkel hits a big shot and then, then you know it’s just a rollercoaster of emotions.”
CSUB had a 10-point lead with less than two minutes to go in regulation. But then disaster struck.
Point guard Rickey Holden — who did not start and was questionable to play with a thumb injury — took the ball too quick down the court, getting outnumbered in the offensive zone before getting stripped. It turned into an Aggies layup.
On the press break, Holden lost it again, failing to get across half court. CSUB forward Greg Lee fouled on a 3-point attempt, his fifth foul of the game. The Roadrunners inbounded the ball after the free throws and Holden got trapped in the corner. Even though the Roadrunners had a timeout left, Holden tried to throw the ball across the baseline and hit the back of the backboard instead.
NMSU’s Johnny McCants got fouled inside by CSUB’s James Suber on the ensuing possession. Suber fouled out on the play. McCants cut the lead to 62-60 with 24.7 seconds left.
CSUB took the ball up the court again, only for Joiner to get it taken away at half court. NMSU’s AJ Harris went in for a breakaway, uncontested dunk to tie the game with 12 seconds to go.
Joiner missed a jumper as time expired in regulation.
“We had the game,” Joiner said. “We gave it back away.”
Somehow, the way CSUB started the game was even worse.
In the first 11:59, CSUB scored just four points. It turned the ball over eight times and made two of its 12 shots. The Aggies went on a 14-0 run and led 20-4.
It took a span of 4:24 at the end of the first half during which CSUB scored 14 points for the Roadrunners to claw back into the contest. New Mexico State held a 26-20 lead at halftime. The 20 points tied CSUB’s least in a half this season.
“I was more frustrated by the first five, six minutes than I was by the last two or three minutes (of regulation),” Barnes said.