Tiny Dancers: CSU-Bakersfield hits buzzer-beater for first NCAAs berth

Cal-State Bakersfield is relatively new to Division I basketball, and was trying to punch its first NCAA Tournament ticket against New Mexico State in the WAC championship game.

That meant upending recent history, as the Aggies had made four straight NCAA Tournament appearances coming into the game, and were trying to get to a sixth in seven years under Marvin Menzies.

It would take a superhuman performance from guard Dedrick Basile, the Roadrunners best player. And that’s exactly what they got.

Basile knocked down a 3-pointer with .2 seconds remaining to give the Roadrunners their first NCAA Tournament appearance ever.

The 3 ended one of the uglier games of championship season, as each team struggled to shoot and grab defensive rebounds. Oh, and both teams had an assist-to-turnover ratio below one. But that’s the kind of basketball the Roadrunners play. They’re a defensive basketball team that likes to force you to play long possessions offensively.

Here’s what else you need to know about the Roadrunners.

Player to know: It’s a three-headed monster here of Basile, Aly Ahmed and Kevin Mays. Ahmed is the big, Mays is the undersized forward at 6-4, and Basile is the lead guard who the team relies on for offense. Basile is probably their most important guy due to his ability to create offense, but all three are vital to their success.

The Vitals:

  • Record: 24-8 overall, 11-3 in the WAC
  • Most recent tournament appearance: First NCAA Tournament appearance
  • Jerry Palm predicts: 15 seed
  • RPI: 138
  • KenPom Ranking: 97
  • Sagarin Ranking: 115
  • Best wins: Grand Canyon
  • Worst losses: Idaho
  • Notable stat: 95.5. That’s the Roadrunners adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom. That’s good for 26th in the country, meaning this is genuinely a good defensive team. It’s a high-pressure side that forces turnovers and doesn’t allow you to take easy shots around the rim.

Closing quip: Congrats to Rod Barnes, the former coach over at Ole Miss and Georgia State. This will be his first trip to the Dance in 14 years, and he’s doing it on the back of a team that could do it again next year as they only lose Mays and Ahmed. Their first round game is likely to be one that they try to ugly up and win on the defensive end. Given that they’ll probably be a 15 or 16 seed, that’s going to be a tall ask. But hey, crazier things have happened.

Dedrick Basile just sent Cal-State Bakersfield to the Dance. (USATSI)
Dedrick Basile just sent Cal-State Bakersfield to the Dance. (USATSI)

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