"Certain rhythms just have certain moods." - Dennis Brown
Still possessing nervous energy after my last final, I hopped on the 44 bus to make the short journey to the Portland State campus. Not wanting to leave anything to chance, I arrived several hours before tip to explore and take in the environment before my first solo road game.
As previously noted, Portland State is a commuter school and has had trouble getting students to attend games. Since the school had been on break for a week, I anticipated seeing many an empty seat. However, the vocal supporters representing Bakersfield freshman Tyrone White and the families seated around me more than made up for lack of students.
Before tip-off, I realized the small, homey atmosphere would also posses one very loud voice: PSU's Public Announcer.
The first half featured neither team getting into much of a rhythm due to great defense and wild passes which produced several turnovers. PSU's Dance Team also had trouble getting into their game-time rhythm: a song mix-up forced the cancellation of their routine for the first media timeout.
Halftime offered lucky fans a chance to win a gift certificate for Papa John's if they could hit a half-court shot. Each of the lipouts and shots off the front of the rim felt like it was Indianapolis again. Luckily, four individuals were able to claim their prize. The last individual, wearing a 2010 Final Four shirt, made halftime feel both triumphant and bittersweet.
The second half saw PSU expand on its four-point lead, extending it to as far as 12. The Vikings made several runs, including a 7-0 run capped off by a breakaway layup by Lateef MacMullin. Bakersfield had issues scoring, lowlit by the rim rejecting a Robert Hayes dunk attempt. I thought the Roadrunners would start off their northern road trip with a painful loss.
Once Mike Harthun hit a superhoop with 3:39 left to go up by nine, I figured PSU could coast; there was no way Bakersfield could make up 13 points in less than three minutes! With PSU up 12 at the final media timeout with 2:51 remaining, the Roadrunners fought back.
Outside a Nate Lozeau jumper, Bakersfield cut the lead to four, through a Robert Hayes superhoop, a pair of Donald Johnson free throws, Hayes forcing a jumpball after Lateef MacMullin dribble the ball off his own leg and an Issaih Grayson superhoop.
In the ensuing possession, Johnson stole the ball and made an #omgstealdunx. The Roadrunner press forced PSU to burn a timeout. With 1:04 to go, I was now hoping for overtime to settle this game. With 35.9 seconds to go, Macmullan hit a pair of free throws to push the lead back to three. To help determine the final result, hometown kid, Tyrone White, entered the game and hit a jumper to cut the lead back to one.
With 25 seconds left, Gary Winston split a pair of free throws after drawing a bump foul, giving PSU a two-point cushion. Shot clock off; one possession away from overtime.
As Stephon Carter, a freshman, tried to equalize the game, Charles Odum, a senior, went for a steal and got tangled up with Carter. As I looked at the outstretched arm of the official point toward PSU, I knew Bakersfield still had a shot. But Carter, possibly still fueled by frustration, committed a reach-in foul on Odum. Before he realized it was his disqualifying foul, he knew his team's chance at a comeback was over.
Odum calmly hit both free throws, and PSU went up by four. As Issiah Grayson, another freshman attempted to draw a foul on a superhoop in the last-ditch effort to tie the game, I was pleased when the ball fell short of the hoop.
Grayson and Carter will learn from this game. The added difficulty of not having a non-conference schedule and this game being the return game of a home and home last year, means their redemption will have to come against a different opponent.
The home team earned their redemption after last year's game in Bakersfield exactly a year ago, where PSU blew an 11-point lead.
For a game like this, I am disappointed but also pleased neither school possesses audio or video archives of previous games. I would like to listen to how the radio broadcasters handled the comeback but I am pleased neither fan base can look back at this game to wonder about what might have been.
Hopefully these two will agree to another home and home, because the 600 other people and I were treated to a nice athletic showdown; Bakersfield needs to schedule challenging opponents to help its resume, and PSU should do its part to limit guarantee games that end in blowouts.
at PORTLAND STATE 91, CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD 87 12/15/2011
CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD 5-4 (0-0) -- D. Johnson 5-10 2-2 12; S. Carter 5-9 0-0 10; R. Savage 3-6 2-2 8; I. Grayson 6-9 4-5 17; R. Hayes 5-9 4-6 17; T. White 4-7 3-3 13; Z. Lamb 0-3 0-0 0; A. Young 2-4 0-0 4; M. Hughley 2-3 0-0 4; A. Jackson 1-5 0-0 2; I. Matip 0-0 0-0 0; K. Pearson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 33-65 15-18 87. PORTLAND STATE 6-4 (0-0) -- C. Tapscott 4-4 4-5 12; C. Odum 5-7 3-4 14; L. McMullan 4-9 6-9 15; M. Harthun 9-11 3-5 22; R. Parker 3-5 2-2 8; N. Lozeau 5-8 1-4 11; G. Winston 3-3 2-4 9; M. Whitmore 0-2 0-0 0; M. Harvey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 33-49 21-33 91.
Three-point goals: CSB 6-14 (R. Hayes 3-6; D. Johnson 0-2; I. Grayson 1-2; T. White 2-4), POST 4-10 (M. Harthun 1-3; L. McMullan 1-2; C. Odum 1-2; G. Winston 1-1; M. Whitmore 0-2); Rebounds: CSB 20 (D. Johnson 7), POST 31 (C. Tapscott 12); Assists: CSB 14 (I. Grayson 6), POST 20 (L. McMullan 6); Total Fouls -- CSB 24, POST 15; Fouled Out: CSB-S. Carter; POST-None.