College

Thursday, Mar 13 2014 10:19 PM

Hungry 'Runners earn win over Chicago State at WAC tournament

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    By Bakersfield's Erik Kinney (24) blocks a shot by Chicago State's Eddie Denard during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. Bakersfield won 68-62. (AP Photo/David Becker)

    Bakersfield's Erik Kinney (24) blocks a shot by Chicago State's Eddie Denard during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. Bakersfield won 68-62. (AP Photo/David Becker)

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    By Bakersfield's Brandon Barnes drives to the basket against Chicago State during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. Bakersfield won 68-62. (AP Photo/David Becker)

    Bakersfield's Brandon Barnes drives to the basket against Chicago State during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. Bakersfield won 68-62. (AP Photo/David Becker)

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    By Bakersfield's Brandon Barnes questions a call during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Chicago State in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. Bakersfield won 68-62. (AP Photo/David Becker)

    Bakersfield's Brandon Barnes questions a call during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Chicago State in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. Bakersfield won 68-62. (AP Photo/David Becker)

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    By Bakersfield's Issiah Grayson goes for a loose ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Chicago State in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. Bakersfield won 68-62. (AP Photo/David Becker)

    Bakersfield's Issiah Grayson goes for a loose ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Chicago State in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. Bakersfield won 68-62. (AP Photo/David Becker)

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    By Chicago State's Nate Duhon (32) tries to stop Bakersfield's Erik Kinney during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. Bakersfield won 68-62. (AP Photo/David Becker)

    Chicago State's Nate Duhon (32) tries to stop Bakersfield's Erik Kinney during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. Bakersfield won 68-62. (AP Photo/David Becker)

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    By Chicago State's Quinton Pippen looks up after sliding into the scorers' table trying to save the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Bakersfield in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. Bakersfield won 68-62. (AP Photo/David Becker)

    Chicago State's Quinton Pippen looks up after sliding into the scorers' table trying to save the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Bakersfield in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. Bakersfield won 68-62. (AP Photo/David Becker)

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    By Bakersfield's Issiah Grayson (12) shoots against Chicago State's Jared Dimakos during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

    Bakersfield's Issiah Grayson (12) shoots against Chicago State's Jared Dimakos during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

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    By Chicago State's Corey Gray, left, and Bakersfield's Erik Kinney chase a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

    Chicago State's Corey Gray, left, and Bakersfield's Erik Kinney chase a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

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    By Bakersfield coach Rod Barnes, left, is held back by a referee as he questions a call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Chicago State in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

    Bakersfield coach Rod Barnes, left, is held back by a referee as he questions a call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Chicago State in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

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    By Chicago State's Nate Duhon (32) goes up for a shot against Bakersfield's Aly Ahmed during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

    Chicago State's Nate Duhon (32) goes up for a shot against Bakersfield's Aly Ahmed during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

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    By Chicago State coach Tracy Dildy calls to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Bakersfield in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

    Chicago State coach Tracy Dildy calls to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Bakersfield in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

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BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer jevans@bakersfield.com

LAS VEGAS -- Rod Barnes said earlier this week the key for Cal State Bakersfield against Chicago State on Thursday would be effective 3-point shooting and controlling the game inside.

He didn't mention senior guard Issiah Grayson, and it was Grayson who was the difference.

Sixth-seeded CSUB rode Grayson's 29 points to a 68-62 win over third-seeded Chicago State in the first round of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament in Orleans Arena.

The Roadrunners (13-18) advance into tonight's 8:30 semifinals against second-seeded New Mexico State, which beat No. 7-seed Seattle on Thursday night.

It was Grayson's night in the first postseason win by the Roadrunner men's basketball team in its seven-year Division I history.

He scored 21 of his points in the second half. Grayson sank 7 of 8 free throws in the final 3:06 that enabled the Roadrunners to hold off Chicago State (13-19).

"A guy like Grayson -- he's one of the best guards I've ever coached against, and I've been coaching for 20 years," said Chicago State coach Tracy Dildy.

"I told our guys it's a new slate," said Barnes, whose squad snapped a four-game losing streak that sent Bakersfield into a three-way tie for last place in the WAC regular season.

"I saw a team where our guys were hungry. We played a team tonight that came at us hard -- maybe as hard as anyone has come at us all year."

The Cougars are small by Division I standards but their quickness and athleticism hampered CSUB in Chicago State's two regular-season wins and seemed to knock CSUB's offense out of sync early in Thursday's game.

But the Roadrunners settled down and adjusted, and Barnes called some timeouts following CSUB buckets when the game was being played at a frantic pace in an attempt to slow the Cougars' momentum.

CSUB's 6-foot-9 center Aly Ahmed added 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Stefon Johnson, a 6-6 forward who normally starts, had 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench, with five offensive rebounds.

"Stefon Johnson didn't start because he was a little injured so he didn't practice a lot this week," Barnes said.

"But he may have played his best game of the year for us tonight."

CSUB had a scare with less than a second remaining in the game when Grayson took a hard foul and crashed into courtside chairs.

He was bent over and massaging his right hand for a few minutes before hitting a free throw for the final margin.

"He's fine," Barnes said. "There's no time for injuries now."

Grayson was fouled on a 3-point attempt and sank all three free throws with 7:03 remaining that put the Roadrunners ahead 56-55. Chicago State never led after that.

The Cougars missed 10 straight shots over a 4:30 stretch that took them out of the game. Two straight 3-pointers by Chicago State senior point guard Corey Gray, with 1:55 and 1:36 remaining, ended the field goal drought.

Grayson countered those buckets by sinking his late free throws to ice the game.

"This feels good," Grayson said. "I like how we came together for the win."

Barnes said CSUB unveiled some new looks on defense, and he credited that with helping slow down the Cougars in the second half.

"Some box-and-1, some triangle-and-2, some zone," Barnes said. "These were some new things we hadn't done before and I credit our players for staying disciplined."

"I give a lot of credit to Bakersfield," Dildy said. "They answered every run we had. They remembered losing to us twice. Those were both dogfights and I didn't expect this to be any different."

CSUB sophomore forward Erik Kinney struggled offensively, scoring only two points and missing all four of his shots, but he played a big part on the other end with nine rebounds.

"Erik, Aly and Brandon (Barnes, the coach's son) all rebounded the ball well," Rod Barnes said.

Chicago State's leading scorer in the regular season, Quinton Pippen, had zero first-half points after playing only four minutes in the first 20 minutes because of foul trouble. He had seven -- 8.5 below his average -- before fouling out and was only 1-of-6 on 3-point tries.

The Cougars had 19 points from senior guard Nate Duhon and 14 by guard Clarke Rosenberg.

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