BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer email@example.com
MORAGA -- This was the kind of season that will lay a foundation for the future.
That's the opinion of Cal State Bakersfield women's basketball coach Greg McCall after the Roadrunners' season ended Friday night with a 75-68 loss to St. Mary's College.
The loss was in the first round of the Women's National Basketball Invitation Tournament. St. Mary's (23-9) travels to Texas-El Paso Monday for a second round game UTEP beat Arkansas State 74-64 Friday.
"I am so proud of those young ladies in the locker room," McCall said after CSUB completed a 19-12 season. "They didn't hang their heads one time. There were not a lot of tears because they know they did something special here tonight.
"This is the second-biggest and second-best tournament in the United States. You've got the NCAAs going on and the WNIT."
This was Bakersfield's first appearance in the WNIT. It was the fifth straight year St. Mary's has been in this tournament.
The difference was fouls. CSUB was called for 26, and St. Mary's wa 29-of-39 from the line. St. Mary's committed only 13 fouls and CSUB was only 7-of-11 from the line.
In the second half, CSUB took 37 shots and St. Mary's had only 18. But the Gaels went 17-of-24 from the line while CSUB was 4-of-6.
"We had everything going for us except fouls," McCall said. "We were getting shots. We were attacking the rim. Everything I asked them to do they did. They followed the game plan to a T."
The one player CSUB couldn't stop was 6-foot-1 senior guard Jackie Nared, who scored 29 points, eight above her average.
Nared posted up inside against smaller defenders and she was able to sink some short-range jump shots. When fouled, she was almost perfect from the line -- 10 of 11.
"She's really good," McCall said. "Her and a player like (Stacey) Barr from Idaho -- you can tell they stand out from the rest."
CSUB had its two standouts, senior Melissa Sweat and junior Tyonna Outland, finish with 20 points each.
Sweat had nine points in the first five minutes of the game to give CSUB a 13-4 lead.
"Some of the shots Sweat made tonight -- she was well defended and she made them," St. Mary's coach Paul Thomas said. "She deserved to make those shots because she's skilled enough to make those shots.
"Well, Jackie (Nared) made a wide variety of shots tonight she deserves it because she's skilled enough."
Outland struggled in the first half, hitting only 2-of-11 shots. But she had 16 points in the second half that played a pivotal role in the Roadrunners staying close until the Gaels pulled away in the final four minutes.
Outland was pulled from the game several times in the first half while struggling.
"I was just pressing," she said. "I wanted to win so bad. I needed to let my teammates step up and let it open up for me. They did a good job of that in the second half."
Sweat, the Stockdale High graduate, saw her collegiate career end. She played at San Diego State and Southern Oregon previously and only spend one season at CSUB.
"It hasn't hit me yet. I'll probably cry later," Sweat said. "I'm just glad to be here and that I had a chance to play at this school. It's just tough to lose so early."
St. Mary's coach Thomas, who squared off so many times against CSUB when he was Cal Poly Pomona's head coach during Bakersfield's Division II era, said he wasn't alarmed when the Gaels got off to a slow start.
"Zero concern," he said. "I've never done that in my career and probably never will (call an early timeout because of a slow start). They didn't need me to settle them down. They needed to settle themselves down.:
The Gaels responded, going on a 20-3 run aided by CSUB missing 11 straight shots. CSUB rallied to tie it 28-28 with 2:25 left in the first half before St. Mary's took a 33-28 lead at halftime.
There were four lead changes and six ties in the second half. Nared's driving layup put the Gaels ahead for good, 59-57 and started an 8-0 run. St. Mary's lead never dropped below six in the final 4:20.
Dajy Vines hit four 3-pointers, including a halfcourt shot to end the game, for 12 points to join Outland and Sweat as CSUB's double-figure scores. Outland added 10 rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
Backing up Nared for the Gaels was backup center Sabrina Engelstad with 12 points, and 10 points each by Danielle Mauldin and Kate Gaze.