UMKC came into its men’s basketball game Saturday against Cal State Bakersfield looking to stay undefeated in the Western Athletic Conference. But the Kangaroos struggled early and lost 83-72 at Municipal Auditorium.
During an early stretch in the first half, UMKC’s offense sputtered while relying on jump shots. This led to a 15-2 run by Cal State Bakersfield.
“We had too many turnovers in the first half offensively and those led to some easy buckets for those guys,” UMKC coach Kareem Richardson said. “That was the biggest thing was taking care of the ball and trying to get great shots every time.”
Damiyne Durham, coming off the bench for Bakersfield, hit his first four three-pointers. UMKC struggled to guard Durham on the perimeter and he finished with 18 points.
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Aly Ahmed was difficult for UMKC’s interior defense to handle. He ended up with 24 points and nine rebounds. The Roadrunners shot 52 percent, making it a tough task for UMKC to overcome a 22-point halftime deficit.
In the second half, the Roos came out with more fight and got into contention with key three-pointers and by cashing in on turnovers. UMKC got within nine points late.
Junior Martez Harrison, the reigning WAC player of the year, scored a team-high 19 points. Shayok Shayok also had a solid contribution for the Roos with 12 points and Broderick Newbill provided a much-needed boost off the bench with 11 points.
“He played with a lot of energy and sparked us for sure,” Richardson said of Newbill. “ He was a part of that group that helped us out.”
Newbill agreed the second half was better, but said the team needs to step it up through the rest of the season.
“We just want to make sure that our preparation is right,” Newbill said. “Doing that is going to tell how are game is going to go.”
UMKC, 8-9, 1-1, will hope to pick up some big road wins this week, starting with a game at New Mexico State at 8 p.m. Thursday.
“This was the first time we didn’t have a successful half like that,” Richardson said. “It’s going to happen in the course of the season, but you don’t want it to happen in a conference battle like this, but those halves happen and you saw are guys bounce back in the second half.”