Cal State Bakersfield women’s basketball coach Greg McCall is aware that throughout a 29-game regular season his team never won three straight games.
He knows that in order to achieve the ultimate goal winning the upcoming Western Athletic Conference Tournament and reaching the program’s first NCAA Tournament, the Roadrunners will have to win three games in four days.
So does he think his squad can put together three wins in a row for the first time all year when it matters most?
“As a matter of fact, I know we can,” McCall said on Feb. 26. “We have the talent. It’s just about us just putting our minds to it and then just going out there and winning those games. Because the teams that we’ve played, now we know that we can beat them.”
After a rollercoaster of a regular season, third-seeded CSUB (13-16, 9-7) will face No. 6 Grand Canyon in the first round of the WAC Tournament. The game is set for an 8:30 p.m. start on Wednesday at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. McCall is hoping his team will be able to find some consistency.
The Roadrunners won their first two games of the year but had a rocky finish to non-conference play. They lost nine straight Division I games before entering the WAC season. During WAC play, CSUB dominated Missouri-Kansas City and Grand Canyon. But the Roadrunners were blown out by WAC newcomer Cal Baptist twice.
In the last weekend of the regular season, CSUB handed Seattle just its second win of the season two days before scoring 56 points in a rout of Utah Valley. The 56 points was the Roadrunners most in a half since 2014 and secured a fourth-place finish ahead of UVU and UMKC. The three teams were tied for fourth heading into the final game.
“Believe or not, I think sometimes I always still feel like we’re the team to beat,” McCall said on Feb. 12. “Because of how we are, our style of play. I was telling our girls today, ‘A lot of teams feel like they’re our rival.’”
UTRGV, UVU, New Mexico State and Grand Canyon all believe that CSUB is their rival, McCall said.
The Roadrunners won both games against Grand Canyon during the season. On Feb. 2, CSUB outscored GCU by 12 in the second half for a 59-46 road win. One month later, CSUB beat the Lopes, 51-37. It tied CSUB’s fewest points allowed in a game this season.
GCU played mostly man defense against CSUB the first two games so McCall is expecting more zone on Wednesday. He’s wary of the Lopes’ size, including forward Da’jah Daniel, who averaged 9.7 points and 9.1 rebounds during WAC play.
“At the end of the day, everybody knows each other and is familiar with each other,” CSUB guard JJ Johnson said. “It just comes down to who wants it more. And I know I definitely want it more, so we’re gonna take it.”
CSUB made its first WAC Tournament title game last season but lost to Seattle, 57-54.
McCall said that playing three games in four days could help his team be more consistent, considering there won't be much time off between games.
“We’re experienced. We’re seasoned,” McCall said. “We’ve been to the championship game. We’ve lost that by three. So we want to get back there. We know what we have to do. We can’t be inconsistent. We have to play the right way every single game, every single possession.”