In my 10-year career of calling CSU Bakersfield basketball games on air I can probably count the ‘great moments’ on one hand. Remember the majority of that time consisted of a NCAA Division I reclassification, meaning we travelled the country getting our teeth kicked in while trying to play up a level. Even after the transition life as an NCAA Independent posed its challenges, so great moments came at a premium.
The funny thing about great moments is that you never have any warning. The worst first half could turn into the best second half and one of the greatest spectacles in sports, just like that.
That was the case last Wednesday night when the CSUB Roadrunners managed a 79-78 double overtime upset over South Dakota St. at Rabobank Arena. A great moment created out of thin air.
Of course the heartaches and heartbreakers have come far more frequently, too many to count. But on the rare occasions the stars are aligned right and you can capture a great moment, you take a little while longer to enjoy it.
First let’s go back a little, 10 years and the five greatest moments I’ve ever witnessed. Our 2007 65-64 win over Fresno State was cool, given that was our first NCAA Division I home game. Our first Division I win in 2006 when we beat Pepperdine in Malibu, our buzzer-beating win over Cal State Northridge in 2010, then there was Stephon Carter breaking the all-time scoring record earlier this season and then last Wednesday night’s double overtime win over South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits were one of the top teams in the Summit League and they were in the NCAA Tournament last season and set to make a return trip this year, so it was a big victory.
Last Wednesday the first half was bad, CSUB made just 17 percent of their shots, but despite that, and despite the fact that South Dakota State had a future NBA draft pick on their roster, we trailed by just eight points at half. Then the magic started.
Opening the half on a 10-0 run we took our first lead, which then led to 12 ties and 13 lead changes over the remainder of the game. South Dakota State missed a gimme-bucket at the end of regulation to force overtime, and then CSUB missed one of their own at the end of the first OT. In the second overtime South Dakota State’s superstar Nate Wolters, who scored a game-high 32 points and had nine NBA scouts in the audience watching him, inexplicably missed two free throws, opening the door for the ‘Runners.
It would be Stephon Carter who would win it at the free-throw line after being fouled on a loose ball with just .5 seconds remaining. Like a placekicker in the NFL he hit the first pressure-packed shot and the second following a timeout by the Jackrabbits; and then it was over.
The upset complete, the great moment in the book.
I hope for these all the time, but rarely do they announce their intentions; you just have to be ready when greatness presents itself, and I can’t wait for it to happen again.