The Utah Valley men’s basketball team took to the road again to take on the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners at the Icardo Center in Bakersfield, California. The Roadrunners came into the game with a 9-10 record for the season but sat comfortably in third place in the WAC standings with a 3-1 conference record on Thursday, Jan. 23.
The sunnier climate of California did little for the Wolverines, as they were ice-cold from the start. Luckily for UVU, the Roadrunners proved equally inept at making shots and much of the first half passed with neither team able to put together a run.
UVU played almost too unselfishly on offense — frequently passing up shot after shot to get the ball into the hands of the open man. The impressive ball movement didn’t translate into many points though, as the Wolverines frequently had to heave up ill-advised shots as time on the shot clock was running out.
With 11:30 left in the half, sophomore guard Trey Woodbury hit a layup to bring UVU within one point of CSUB, trailing 8-9. Neither team would score for nearly six minutes after Woodbury’s basket — two full media timeouts passed without a score.
UVU finally ended the drought around the six-minute mark, bringing their point total into double-digits. The final six minutes of the half played out nearly as sloppily as the first 14, with the Wolverines ahead 19-17. Despite playing only nine minutes in the first half for the Wolverines, junior guard Isaiah White racked up eight rebounds and a steal.
The Wolverines were able to find their groove in the second half, thanks in large part to White and Woodbury. Woodbury knocked down only the second 3-pointer made by UVU, then followed it up with a finger-roll layup on the other end to give UVU a 35-25 lead.
CSUB quickly turned things around and tied the game on a 10-0 run led by junior guard Taze Moore. Fouls on senior forward Emmanuel Olojakpoke and senior center Brandon Morley gave the Roadrunners their first made shots from the charity stripe. Olojakpoke had to sit midway through the second half after accruing four personal fouls.
With 1:11 left, Moore fouled out while fighting White for a rebound — White made 1-of-2 free throws to put UVU ahead 49-47. CSUB answered with two free throws of their own, then forced a turnover on the inbound pass. Olojakpoke came up with a huge block in the paint to give the Wolverines a chance to break the tie with 18 seconds left. Junior guard Brandon Averette got an open look from behind the arc but was unable to connect, sending the game to overtime tied at 49.
Having played in four overtime games this season, the Roadrunners landed a couple of body blows early as junior guard Justin Edler-Davis hit back-to-back three’s. Wolverine senior guard T.J. Washington responded with a deep 3-pointer of his own to keep the game close. CSUB pulled ahead 58-57 with 25 seconds left on a made free throw. The Wolverines sealed their fate by missing two shots in the final ten seconds of the game.
White finished the game with 13 points and a career-high 18 rebounds — he shot 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. Washington added 13 points and led all players from behind the arc, where he shot 3-of-6.
The Wolverines will try to look past this loss on Saturday, Jan. 25, when they travel to Phoenix to face the Grand Canyon Antelopes at 6 p.m. MST.
Photo by Cameron Hunsinger