BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer email@example.com
Cal State Bakersfield hadn't won at home since before Thanksgiving.
That victory drought ended Thursday night in the Icardo Center when the Roadrunners used a dominant second half to beat Idaho 76-67.
"Hopefully this is a turnaround for us and we can start moving up in the standings and we can try to get back to having a winning season," said CSUB coach Rod Barnes after Bakersfield improved to 10-14 overall and 3-7 in the Western Athletic Conference.
"We're thankful we finally got one," said senior guard Brandon Barnes, the coach's son who had 16 points and 10 rebounds. "The last three games we lost we played extremely well, and we felt like we should have won those games.
"Tonight we put an emphasis of making plays at the end. We're fortunate the ball bounced our way."
Aly Ahmed added 16 points and 13 rebounds and Corey Hall had 14 points, including two 3s in three CSUB possessions with less than 6:30 remaining that kept Bakersfield in control.
Hall had nearly air-balled a 3-point try just before he sank his two 3s, which built CSUB leads to 7 and 9 points, respectively.
"I shoot that shot in practice very day," said Hall, a 6-foot-7 senior forward. "Brandon passed me the ball and told me to shoot it. I just let it go."
Ahmed's driving layup with 14:42 left in the game gave CSUB its first second-half lead. That was the first of 10 straight points that Ahmed tallied, which put CSUB ahead for good.
"We focused on the little things," said Ahmed, a 6-9 sophomore center from Egypt. "We finally found our chemistry together and got the win."
CSUB had a 42-31 rebounding edge with 14 offensive boards. Bakersfield shot 60 percent in the second half (18-of-30) after trailing 30-28 at halftime.
Rod Barnes said he liked CSUB's aggressive play late in the game.
"For the first time this season at the end of a game, it could have been football plays out there," he said. "After the ball was shot there were bodies going everywhere.
"We finally decided that we'll pursue the basketball and if we've got to run over somebody in the last 2 minutes to get it, that's what we'll do."
Idaho coach Don Verlin returned to the Icardo Center, where he was part of former CSUB coach Pat Douglass' staff from 1992-1994, during which time the Roadrunners won two straight Division II national championships.
"They just kicked our tail, like we used to do here with Pat Douglass," Verlin said.
"It was great (being back). I really believe Cal State Bakersfield should play their games here, and that probably doesn't make the administration happy.
"But this building has a lot of history and it's a great place to play basketball. ... It could be one of the best home courts in the WAC if the people would come out and support them."