Cal State Bakersfield looks to pick on the only Pac-12 Conference team it has beaten in recent years when the Roadrunners visit Cal on Monday night in Berkeley, Calif.
Bakersfield (1-1) got a taste of the Pac-12’s projected upper division in an 85-59 shellacking at Southern California on Thursday. The loss came after a 73-72 season-opening win at home over Southern Utah.
The last time the Roadrunners tasted success against the Pac-12, it wasn’t a scheduled game. It occurred in the 2017 NIT, when they traveled to Berkeley and surprised the Golden Bears, beating them 73-66.
This time around, Bakersfield is led by Kaleb Higgins, the club’s leading scorer a season ago until he suffered a season-ending knee injury in January.
He made a successful comeback with a career-high 27 points in the win over Southern Utah before adding 19 against USC.
Win or lose, Higgins is just happy to be back.
“I missed it,” he assured. “I got a little teary-eyed when I got on the court (for the opener). It was just a lot of fun.”
Cal (1-1) has followed the same script as Monday’s opponent — beating St. Thomas of Minnesota in an emotional season opener that was coach Mark Madsen’s debut, before falling flat in an 87-79 home loss to Pacific.
Transfer Jaylon Tyson, who gained his eligibility less than 48 hours before the game, paced Cal in the Pacific loss with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Jalen Cone added 22 points.
The Golden Bears watched the Tigers make half of their 3-point attempts (13 of 26) after St. Thomas had gone 12-for-28 from deep in the opener. Cal is allowing opponents to shoot 46.3 percent from distance, a defensive rank among the worst in Division I.
“We have to have a sense of understanding. We can’t let a team shoot 50 percent against us from three,” Madsen said of the Pacific game. “We did not do the job on defense. We’ll study the film, we’ll learn from it and we’ll bounce back ready to go Monday.”
–Field Level Media
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