Gauchos Battle But Drop 77-70 Decision at Bakersfield

Eric Childress (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Eric Childress (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – In a game of runs, Cal State Bakersfield had the last one and it was the difference in a 77-70 win over visiting UC Santa Barbara on Saturday night.

The Roadrunners (2-1) used a late 8-0 surge to turn a narrow 66-64 lead into an insurmountable 74-64 edge with just 1:03 to play. The Gauchos (0-3) couldn't get closer than seven in the final minute. 

The result was determined, in great part, due to a lethal combination of 14 Bakersfield 3-point baskets and 21 UCSB turnovers. 

"This was the first time this year that we've faced that kind of pressure," said head coach Bob Williams. "But overall, I was happy with how hard we fought tonight. I told the team after the game that I am never happy with a loss, but tonight we battled so much harder than the first two games and I see that as a positive."

The Gauchos led by as many as seven points in the first half and still led 49-46 when freshman Clifton Powell, Jr., made the first 3-point basket of his career with 12:59 to play in the game, but that's when Bakersfield went on its lengthiest run of the game, a 13-0 surge that gave it a 59-49 lead with 9:45 left. The 13-0 run included a trio of 3-point baskets, including a pair by Damiyne Durham who finished with a game-high 30 points and hit 8-of-19 from outside the 3-point arc.

"We just kept taking the bait," Williams said. "They would drive the paint and kick it out. Our guys got sucked in and couldn't get out far enough to contest as strong as we needed to." 

UCSB would use a 13-3 rally of its own to tie the score on a pair of Childress free throws with 5:26 on the clock. Freshman Max Heidegger, making his first career appearance, scored seven of the 13 points, including his first career 3-point basket. 

At that point, however, the Roadrunners went on their decisive 8-0 run to put the game away. 

"You never like to lose, but I liked a lot of what I saw tonight," Williams said. "Our whole team, including the young guys, really battled from start to finish and eventually, I think, we'll see some results. 

Childress, the team's only senior, finished with a career-high 14 points. He also added six rebounds and four assists. Junior Gabe Vincent struggled with his shot for the third straight game, but had 13 points. Junior transfer Jalen Canty had his first career double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. He added a pair of blocked shots and a two steals. 

Heidegger had 11 points in his debut, making all six of his free throw attempts. Powell also had his best career game with nine points and three rebounds.

Jaylin Airington added 18 points and a team-high seven rebounds for the Roadrunners, who had 14 steals as a team.

The Gauchos next game is Tuesday, Nov. 22 when they play SMU in Dallas. Tip-off for the game against the Mustangs is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. (PST) and it will be carried live on UCSBgauchos.com.