While Washington represents the basketball rivalry Seattle University wants, Gonzaga and Washington State are untapped rivalries waiting to be explored, and Seattle Pacific is the rivalry that makes the most sense on multiple levels, CSU Bakersfield is the rivalry that gives the Redhawks its most accurate mirror.
The Redhawks and Roadrunners are just toddlers on the Division 1 level and new to the Western Athletic Conference (SU joined last year, CSUB this year). Both have a ton of potential for growth based on their locations in fruitful recruiting hotbeds and coaching staffs with major-conference bona fides, and almost by default both should be strong contenders for the conference title next season.
So when the Roadrunners slipped past the Redhawks 75-74 in overtime at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash. (technically a home game for SU), it felt like the birth of a defining rivalry in the WAC.
After a back-and-forth first half, CSU Bakersfield threatened to pull away a few times in the second half, but Seattle U answered each run with one of their own. CSUB was still up by two with 11 seconds to go before SU point guard Prince Obasi made a layup to force overtime.
Javante Maynor put the Roadrunners up early in the extra session by hitting a three-pointer and a jumper, but the Redhawks responded at the free-throw line to tie the score with two minutes remaining. SU took a one-point lead on a three by forward Chad Rasmussen with 22 seconds left, and on the next possession Rasmussen nearly got a steal that could have iced the game. But Roadrunners guard Stephon Carter nailed a 15-foot jumper with two seconds to go that lifted CSUB to the victory.
Rasmussen led Seattle U with 13 points, while center Louis Green had 11 points and two blocks. Tyrone White led CSU Bakersfield with 27 points, including seven three-pointers.
Although both squads were carried on this night by seniors who have since moved on, the game was still a glimpse into the future for two programs on the rise, perhaps in unison.