RIVERSIDE, Calif. --- History was made in Van Dyne Gym Saturday night. California Baptist University defeated Dixie State 100-90 with its first victory over the Red Storm and kept its winning streak alive in front of a packed home court.
"Our guys showed great toughness tonight in what was an extremely competitive game in a tremendous basketball environment," said head coach Rick Croy.
The Lancers extend their impressive program-best record to stand at 15-0 on the season and stay on top of the PacWest standings with an unblemished 9-0 conference record. Dixie State falls to 13-2 on the season and 7-2 in the PacWest with its first loss to CBU.
Ryan Berg led both teams with a career-high 34 points, tying his previous career-best in the first half alone. The freshman guard went 10-for-13 from the field and sank eight of his 10 three-pointers, coming just two shy of tying a single-game record set back in 1989.
"I defintely felt like I had the hot hand in the first half," said Berg. "I have to credit my teammates, they were getting me the ball when I was open to get those shots."
Four other Lancers finished the night scoring in double figures, with Ivan Patterson taking second with 23 points (4-for-7, 15-for-16 FT). Anthony Cosentino followed with 15 points (6-for-15) and Chris Brown (5-for-8) and Michael Smith (3-for-9) rounded out the group with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
For just the second time this season, CBU may not have scored the first point, but the Lancers were undeterred as they kept their composure. After Kevin Crabb made a crucial block, Berg put the Lancers in front 3-2.
"I knew our guys would be excited about playing Dixie State, the standard of our conference," said Croy. "Our guys are well aware of how solid they are in every area. I didn't want them to get too excited for the game. We talked a lot about poise and I think our environment really helped."
The two teams exchanged points before either side could get a solid run together. Garrett Jefferson grabbed a defensive board and put Berg on the attack. Berg sank another shot from deep straight through the hoop to give CBU an 8-4 lead.
DSU answered with seven-straight points, but CBU responded with a run of its own to go back in front 13-11. Even after the Red Storm found a bucket, the Lancers went on a nine-point run to hold a 22-13 advantage with just over 10 minutes remaining in the half.
Under pressure, Berg sent an arching shot from beyond the arc and drew the foul in the process to grab a four-point play and put his team in front 43-31 as the half hit the two-minute mark.
"Ryan plays with a chip on his shoulder," said Croy. "He may not be the quickest player, but he believes and we believe in him. He showed it tonight like he's been showing it all year. He's a focused and humble competitor."
Berg upped the ante even more as the buzzer sounded off, sinking yet another three-pointer from just inside half court to put the Lancers up 53-33 at the break.
"The ball started going in for us and it became contagious," said Croy. "It was a great first half for us."
DSU came out of the break looking to gain some momentum and took the first two baskets in the frame to drop CBU’s lead to 16 points, and cut further into it to trail by 14 three minutes into the second.
Brown sparked an offensive surge, stealing the ball from the Red Storm for a fast break to put his team back in front by 20. Taking his teammate’s lead, Eric Nelson followed in similar fashion, taking away a ball of his own and driving to the basket to give CBU a 23-point margin at 71-48 and 13:46 left to play.
The Red Storm battled to get back in the game, cutting the Lancers lead to 77-66 with less than eight minutes remaining.
Smith ended the run with a chance at the line and Berg added another two free throws to keep the Red Storm at an arm’s length. Cosentino kept the run going with a layup in the paint after Brown stole the ball from the visitors.
With a 12-point lead heading down the stretch, CBU looked to keep possession and take time off the clock. Cosentino added another three points to give his squad an 88-73 advantage.
The Lancers found themselves in rocky territory as the Red Storm brought the game within single digits at 90-81 with just under three minutes left on the clock.
"It took everything in our program to hold DSU off in the second half," said Croy. "We were out of timeouts and out of point guards in the last few minutes and our seniors made some big plays. We knew Dixie State would compete until the end and we were fortunate enough to hang on."
As intensity built in the sold-out Van Dyne Gym with a minute left on the clock, DSU brought the score back within single-digits at 96-88 and attempted to foul back in the game.
Geoff McIntosh and Smith finished both their shots at the line to put CBU’s tally to 100—the first time this season—and the Lancers held on to a 100-90 victory.
CBU hosts Point Loma Nazarene on Monday at 7:30 p.m., back in Van Dyne Gym, looking to keep moving forward.
"We have a lot more work to do, but our guys come to compete every day in practice," said Croy. "We're excited about the win, but know we have to get ready for Point Loma on Monday night."