By BRETT LEWIS
Special to The Press-Enterprise
SAN BERNARDINO - Down by as many as 13 in the first half, Cal State San Bernardino rallied to win its season opener, 87-65 over Alaska-Fairbanks on Sunday at Coussoulis Arena.
The Coyotes' comeback was as much the Nanooks' doing as it was their own. Alaska-Fairbanks (0-2) committed 28 turnovers.
"We won't win too many games if we play like that," Coyotes coach Jeff Oliver said. "We were just fortunate that they threw it to us on a number of occasions."
The new-look Coyotes, ranked 20th in the Division II preseason poll, eventually showed the improved firepower that they hope will keep them on top of the CCAA.
Forward Ryan Kinney, a sophomore from Beaumont High, led the Coyotes with 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting from three-point range. He hit five in the second half when Cal State heated up behind the arc, making 9 of 13.
"In the first half we were relying on our offense for our defense, when we should have been playing hard the whole time," said senior guard Reggie Brown, one of three Coyotes with five steals. "Once we get our defense going, our offense will come."
Alaska-Fairbanks turned the ball over twice as often as the Coyotes in the first half (16-8) but still managed to take a 41-35 lead into halftime by shooting nearly 55 percent from the field. Jon Moe hit three three-pointers in the first 10 minutes and had 13 points in the half.
"Absolute sleepwalking," Oliver said of his team's first-half performance, which included shooting 33 percent. "I'm OK with mistakes. I'm just dumbfounded by the effort. There was no energy at all."
Moe hit another three to cap a run that began the second half and extended the lead to 11. However, DuBois Williams hit a three on an assist from Brown to spark a 7-0 Coyotes run.
Cal State took its first lead, 52-50, on a three by Kinney with 14 minutes left. A few plays later, Williams stole the ball and led a fast break, passing to Lawrence Tyson for a layup and a five-point lead.
Alaska-Fairbanks responded with a 6-0 run to regain the lead. But Kinney hit another three to give the Coyotes a 58-56 advantage. Larry DeHughes scored after an Alaska-Fairbanks turnover, and Kinney hit another three for a 63-56 lead as the Coyotes closed the game on a 32-9 run.
Published: Monday, November 17, 2008