Leif Karlberg tallied a season-high 23 points and Jason Logan capped off a late run with a thunderous dunk as The Master’s College pulled away from visiting UC Santa Cruz 67-56 Friday night in Bross Gym.
The victory extended the Mustangs’ winning streak to a season-high four games (9-3 overall) and kept them unblemished in seven home starts.
Karlberg (Anchorage, AK), who canned a season-best six three-pointers, drained four from behind the arc in a breakout first half that saw the Mustangs fall behind early before surging late to take control. The first of the senior guard’s trifectas put a stop to a 6-0 Banana Slug run, pulling the Mustangs within 10-7 at the 15:33 mark of the opening half.
The Mustangs would get as close as one point (12-11) over the next five minutes but couldn’t catch the Slugs just yet. They were saving that for another outside bomb, this one from Lance Reeves (Visalia, CA) that tied the score 19-all with 10:34 left in the period. The Slugs responded in like fashion on their next trip down the court and then Karlberg took over.
Karlberg’s three-ball with 9:07 showing on the clock knotted the game at 22-all and keyed a 13-0 run that put the Mustangs ahead to stay. His next trey unlocked the tie and his final one of the half with 3:29 remaining finished off the burst for a 32-22 advantage. The Mustangs, led by Karlberg’s 14 points, went to halftime up 32-25.
After a Trent Reeves’ three-pointers drew the Slugs within 32-28 just 19 seconds into the second half, the Mustangs answered with six consecutive points in a 1:38 window to take their second 10-point lead of the game, 38-28. Junior Austin Loeb (Cypress, CA) keyed the spurt with a jumper and Devin Dyer (Temecula, CA), who was held scoreless in the first half, capped it off with a layup.
Over the next four-plus minutes, the Mustangs kept the Slugs at bay, claiming two more 10-point leads and not letting the visitors get closer than seven points. However, Santa Cruz still had some life left and used it to rip off seven straight points, closing to 44-41 on a Dylan Holler jumper with 12:29 left to play.
That certainly got the Mustangs’ attention as two Paul Brown (Kingston, Jamaica) free throws keyed a 5-0 burst that Karlberg finished off with three charity tosses for a 49-41 advantage at the 11:27 mark. But, the Slugs weren’t about to die that easily as they responded with an 8-2 skein, slicing the deficit to 51-47 on an Austin Steadman jumper with 8:36 remaining.
Just over a minute later, the gap was still four points (53-49) but a Korey Anderson (Clovis, CA) layup with 6:33 left created some space and triggered a decisive 9-0 run that put the game away. Karlberg’s final three-pointer of the evening was part of the burst and Logan finished it with a tomahawk, left-handed jam for a 62-49 margin with 2:44 left to play. Not to be overlooked during the skein was a stingy Mustang defense that blanked the Slugs for almost five minutes.
Karlberg’s game-high total came from 7-16 shooting, including a 6-15 showing from behind the arc. Logan added 14 points and took down a game-high seven caroms while Dyer finished with 11 more, all of them coming in the second half.
The Mustangs would love to keep playing and extend their winning streak but the Christmas break will keep them from doing so until December 29 when they host Concordia of Oregon.