If not for James Suber and Jarkel Joiner, UC Merced, an NAIA school, might have pulled off its biggest win of the season in the Icardo Center on Tuesday night.
Cal State Bakersfield didn’t look quite like a team that played close with TCU and USC, but Joiner and Suber looked like the best players on the court.
Joiner scored a game-high 22 points. Suber scored 18 points, grabbed 19 rebounds — both career highs — and drew 12 fouls. They led CSUB (4-4) to a 67-53 win over UC Merced (6-3).
“They’re a tough, scrappy team,” CSUB assistant coach Benjy Taylor said of the Bobcats. “They’re well coached. We got to give them a lot of credit. When we made mistakes on personnel, they made us pay for it.
“Sube got fouled 12 times tonight. He played a great game. Jarkel had a great game. We had a lot of input from guys that we’ve been trying to get consistency from. We’re starting to see some consistency from Sube and Jarkel and I think it bodes well for us.”
Together, Suber and Joiner were 16-for-28 shooting with 26 rebounds. The 12 other Roadrunners players to hit the court were 11-for-33. For Suber, it was his second career double-double and second in a row.
Taylor thought it should count as a triple-double, factoring in the drawn fouls.
Damiyne Durham inched his way a little closer to the school’s all-time career 3-pointers made record. He made one of his six attempts from beyond the arc and is three away from breaking Kenny Warren’s record.
“It’s good to come home and protect your house,” Joiner said, referencing the five games prior that CSUB had been away from the Icardo Center.
UC Merced’s Aaron Laflin led the team with 14 points and Kyle Daugherty added 12. UC Merced only shot 35.4 percent for the game and was outrebounded 46-27.
The Bobcats trailed by just nine points with 5:32 left. Joiner responded soon with two consecutive 3-pointers. The first was in isolation at the end of the shot clock. The next came in transition and put CSUB up by 18 with two minutes to go.
Suber scored CSUB’s first two buckets, three of its first four and had 10 points and eight rebounds by halftime. He grabbed most of the missed shots he was under the basket for and was fouled on plenty others — including two flagrant fouls.
One on possession, Suber caught the ball too far underneath the basket. Three Bobcats surrounded him but he took one power dribble and step-back before hitting the layup. By the second half, UC Merced double-teamed Suber whenever he got the ball.
“I just rebound, I make my layups, got to make my free throws,” Suber said.
When Suber looked at the box score, the most significant statistic he saw was the 10 missed free throws. He was 4-for-14 in the game. A few minutes later, he was still letting out sighs over it.
“That’s why you’re missing them. You got to relax,” Taylor said. It was the same advice CSUB head coach Rod Barnes had given Suber during the game.
Then Suber went back out to the court. With Taylor and graduate assistant Brent Wrapp watching, he took about 50 shots from the line.