BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer email@example.com
SACRAMENTO -- Cal State Bakersfield basketball coach Rod Barnes said he isn't hitting the panic button. But clearly things have been slow to mesh this season.
CSUB fell to 0-3 with an 85-67 loss at Sacramento State on Wednesday night. The Hornets (2-0) never trailed after pulling into a 5-5 tie and combined hot shooting from the field with an overwhelming superiority from the free-throw line to blow it open.
The Roadrunner offense, which struggled in losses to Texas-Arlington and Cal, two teams coming off 24-win seasons, struggled again for most of Wednesday's game. Sac State was 10-18 last season.
"We've got some things we need to straighten out," Barnes said. "I'd never panic. This is a marathon. I said that last season when we got off to a good start.
"Now we're behind the 8-ball, obviously. You're always concerned when you lose games. There's no sense of panic but a sense of urgency."
Senior Zach Lamb, who has been thrust into the point guard position, seemed out of sync at times during CSUB's first two games and that continued at times Wednesday. While Barnes admitted that was true, he said he has faith that Lamb will become more comfortable sooner rather than later at the point.
"A new guy playing a new position," Barnes said. "Zach played point guard last year as a backup, but Issiah (Grayson, who's redshirting this season) logged most of the minutes. ... We're a work in progress. Zach is going to play better. We'll get our point guard situation squared away.
"But I saw some things where we showed improvement," the coach added. "We had more assists (an 18-10 edge). We hit the boards (a 36-33 advantage). But we turned the ball over at inopportune times and we didn't defend as well as we have been defending, and it cost us the game."
Sac State had a huge edge from the line, hitting 29 of 36 free throws to CSUB's 3 of 6.
"It is what it is," Barnes said. "When you go on the road you expect to have some of that. Obviously it was a large amount.
"That wasn't the reason we lost. Obviously, it was the reason for the game being so separated. ... That's just the way it happens. I've coached long enough to understand that."
The Hornets simply were more aggressive attacking the basket. Sophomore guard Mikh McKinney hit big shots all night, many when the Roadrunners were starting to gain momentum. He finished with 23 points. Point guard Dylan Garrity added 21 points, sinking 11-of-12 free throws, and added seven assists.
"We give them credit," Barnes said. "They played better than we did tonight. Right now we're not playing to our potential. But it's early in the year. We'll get that going soon."
One bright spot for CSUB was sophomore guard Javonte Maynor, who sank seven 3-pointers to tie the program's Division I record. Maynor, who was 6-of-8 on 3s in the first half, finished with 23 points. Adam Young and Stephon Carter added 12 points each.
"I found my rhythm," said Maynor, who was only 4-of-15 on 3s in the first two games. "We had a lot of confidence coming into this game. We've got to play better defense. Our offense will come."
Barnes noted there isn't a lot of time for preparation before CSUB's next game, Saturday night against Loyola Marymount in the Icardo Center.
"You've got to play though it," Barnes said. "You've got to have guys who will hopefully retain things from film and from the game. It's a tough situation but a good situation.
"You're tested and that's when you find out where you are. It's easy when things are going well. ... When it gets tough, you start figuring out a lot.
"I like the character of this team and when we get it right we're going to be a very, very good basketball team."