ABILENE, Texas – A defensive battle raged inside the Teague Center on Wednesday night as CSU Bakersfield and Abilene Christian scored for every point. When the dust settled the visiting Roadrunners ran into the host Wildcats, 69-59, free throws proved to be the biggest difference.

Abilene Christian (7-2), a 2021 NCAA tournament second-round team, never led more than 12 points in the game as the `Runners (4-3) fought to keep their hosts at your fingertips. Both teams played solid defense, but Bakersfield’s aggressiveness sent ACU more often to the free throw line. The Wildcats reached 30 of 40 with the charity strip while CSUB went 11 of 20. With the win, Abilene extended her home winning streak to 19 straight games.

“I didn’t think we followed the game plan like we really should have,” said Rod barnes, Bakersfield head coach. “Too many times they’ve come to the free throw line. We turned the ball too much, especially at the start of the game… We have to give them credit for fighting harder than we did to win . hard to go on the road and win. You have to have a different kind of mentality and tonight we didn’t have that kind of mentality. “

The `Runners and Wildcats had a tight first half with five changes to the lead. With six minutes remaining in the opening period, ACU’s Coryon Mason pulled off a jumper to give the home side a 19-18 lead. The Wildcats finished the half on an 8-3 streak to take a 27-21 lead in the locker room.

Bakersfield played an even first period with ACU in most categories, but fouling issues sent the Wildcats to the free throw line early and often. The Cats made 10 of 13 free throws against 4 of 9 for CSUB.

Abilene opened up a 10-point lead early in the second half, but Bakersfield responded with a 7-0 run to close the gap. A Justin edler-davis Three-point corner tied the score at 37-37 briefly, but ACU kept the ‘Runners just out of reach for the remainder of the half.

After a six-point push from junior Cameron Smith helped the `Runners get closer to five points, Abilene had a 10-2 run to take her biggest lead of the contest, 62-49, with three and a half minutes to go. CSUB playmaker Kaleb higgins hit a few big shots down the home stretch, helping the `Runners reduce the deficit to single digits on several occasions, but the Cats made their free throws to freeze the game.

Higgins scored 14 of his game-high 17 points in the second half. The `Runners also looked to Edler-Davis, who had 13 points and three rebounds. Super senior companion Justin mccall played a 32-minute high while adding 11 points, eight boards and a pair of interceptions.

On the game, CSUB shot 39.5% from the field, almost exactly matching ACU’s 39.3% effort. The `Runners outscored the Cats 26-20 in the paint and Bakersfield had a 37-30 advantage in the rebound department.

CSUB will stay on the road, traveling to Boulder, Colorado in preparation for their final non-conference road game. On Saturday, December 18, CSUB will face Colorado, a member of the Pac-12, before turning to Bakersfield. Fans can watch Saturday’s game live on the Pac-12 networks.

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