ARLINGTON, Texas — CSU Bakersfield used a late run in the first half to post an 80-76 win over UTA men’s basketball in the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament, played in front of 6,336 on Wednesday night at College Park Center.
UTA (27-9) saw its record-setting season end a step shy of advancing to the NIT Final Four at Madison Square Garden. Paced by the Sun Belt Conference Coach (Scott Cross) and Player of the Year (Kevin Hervey), the Mavs set a program record with 27 wins en route to their first regular-season conference championship in the Sun Belt.
CSU Bakersfield (25-9) used a 23-9 run over the final seven minutes of the half to take a 16-point lead into halftime. UTA’s furious rally in the second half fell just short as the Roadrunners outlasted the Mavs as a 12-point advantage was all the ground UTA could make up in the second stanza.
CSUB held the Mavs to 36-percent shooting from the field, winning the battle on the glass, 33-32, owning a 41-19 advantage in bench points and limiting the Mavs to just eight three pointers in 29 attempts. The Roadrunner finished the game leading all but 48 seconds.
The Roadrunners snapped UTA’s 15-game home winning streak and handed the Mavs their first loss at home in 15 tries during a historic 2016-17 campaign.
The Mavs opened their run in the NIT with a 105-89 win at BYU in the first round, the first postseason win in program history. UTA then won its first home postseason game in program annals with an 85-69 win on Monday night over Akron, a 27-win regular-season champion of the Mid-American Conference.
The crowd of 6,336 on Wednesday marked the second-largest basketball crowd in College Park Center history.