Sometimes, the best form of motivation comes in the form of a kick in the pants. For the Lady Mustangs, it was an elbow to the back.
After trailing the Lady Hawks the entirety of the first half, Jacquelyn Marshall (San Clemente, CA) drove in a layup six minutes into the second stanza, giving the Lady Mustangs their first lead at 35-33.
Over the next three minutes, the Lady Mustangs slowly, but surely, extended their lead to 40-35, paced by a Zoe Scott (Spokane, WA) three-pointer, and a Kelly Burns (Yorba Linda, CA) layup.
And then, it happened.
Just as Lena Rivera (Allen, TX) was going in for a layup to give the Lady Mustangs a seven point advantage, San Diego Christians’ Brittney Daniel delivered a punishing elbow to Rivera’s back, sending the 5-10 senior crashing to the ground.
That intentional foul sparked a 7-0 run on part of TMC, featuring Rivera sinking two free throws, and younger sister Millie Rivera (Allen, TX) draining a jumper, and posting a long range three-pointer. Shaken, but not seriously hurt, Lena Rivera went on to finish the game.
With a 12 point cushion entering into the remaining 10 minutes of play, the Lady Mustangs were faithful to maintain their lead to the final buzzer, never letting their advantage dip below six points.
“We sat in the zone in the first half letting them [SDCC] hit some tough three-pointers, so we decided to play man-to-man in the second half, and were able to get some stops and get some key shots in,” commented Lady Mustang head coach Dan Waldeck. “We played much tougher, and rebounded better when the game easily could have gotten out of hand.”
At the end of the first half, the Lady Mustangs were held to a meager 29% shooting accuracy, easily over-shadowed by the Lady Hawks’ 55% field goal completion. After the break, TMC’s shooting accuracy improved to 40%, while SDCC succumbed to a minimal 28%. Despite the Lady Mustangs’ solid 60-50 victory, TMC was outshot by the Hawks 37% (18-46) to 35% (20-56).
Marshall led all scorers with 19 points, earned a double-double with 10 rebounds, and led the squad with four blocks. Lena Rivera chipped in 10 points, while Scott and Burns each scored eight.
The Lady Mustangs, whose overall record improves to 19-1, now fix their sights to Tuesday’s 5:30 PM road game in Costa Mesa against conference rival Vanguard. The Pride, who ranks No. 3 in the NAIA’s most recent Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, is currently tied in second place with the No. 8 nationally ranked Lady Mustangs in the Golden State Athletic Conference with a 5-1 record, and also boasts a 14-1 overall record.
“It doesn’t get any easier for us,” assessed Waldeck. “Hopefully we can go in, play some good team-centered basketball, and leave it all into the Lord’s hands.”
If Saturday night’s game against the Lady Hawks shows anything, it’s that the Lady Mustangs aren’t afraid to play with intensity. Especially when push comes to shove.
In a game where it never trailed and should have sailed to an easy victory, The Master’s College men’s basketball team let San Diego Christian stay around too long before pulling away for an 81-71 GSAC victory Saturday evening before an energetic crowd in Bross Gym.
The victory was the Mustangs’ second in three contests and lifted their overall record to 13-8 and 2-4 in the GSAC where they are one of five teams tied for fourth place.
Clearly, the Mustangs were the better team on this evening as evidenced by a 47%-42% shooting advantage, a 46-28 margin on the boards, and a 19-9 edge at the free throw line. Despite all this good stuff, the one troubling area that will eat at Coach Chuck Martin and his staff, and the one that kept the Hawks in the game was turnovers where the Mustangs gave the ball away 18 times, leading to 20 Hawk points.
Many of those points enabled the Hawks to fight back from double-digit deficits before the Mustangs created more separation several times. One of the last times came with under four minutes left to play and the Mustangs enjoying a 70-56 lead. But, in the space of two minutes, the Mustangs turned the ball over four times, allowing the Hawks to pull within six points after a 10-2 run.
However, a Jason Logan (Spartanburg, SC) offensive rebound, one of his season-high 15 boards, with 1:16 showing on the clock set up a pair of Leif Karlberg (Anchorage, AK) free throws and the Mustangs added more insurance from that spot on the court as Derrick Fain (Dallas, TX) tallied his club’s final six points from the stripe.
The final moments shouldn’t have been this close considering the start to the game where the Mustangs scored 11 of the game’s first 13 points. Logan keyed the game-opening run with three points and capped it off with a layup at the 17-minute mark, and in between Fain drained a pair of three-pointers.
However, the Hawks weren’t about to get blown out early as they outscored the Mustangs 14-6 in a five-minute span to pull within 17-16 on an Andy Saharan layup with 11:08 remaining in the first half.
That seemed to get the Mustangs’ attention, although it took awhile for the scoreboard to reflect that. Sandwiching a pair of free throws around another Fain trifecta, Logan led a 5-0 spurt in a 2 1/2-minute window to give the Mustangs a 22-16 lead. Just as important was the play of the Mustang defense which clamped down on the Hawks, keeping them off the scoreboard for nearly five minutes.
A Peter Beale-Wirsing layup at the 6:18 mark put an end to that Mustang skein but the hosts wasted no time in creating another as a Paul Brown (Kingston, Jamaica) jumper 30 seconds later sparked an 8-0 run that handed the club its largest lead of the half, 30-18. Chris Patureau (Houston, TX) followed Brown’s basket with a layup and Devin Dyer (Temecula, CA) capped things off with consecutive baskets.
Just when it appeared that the Mustangs were ready to make a strong statement going into halftime, the turnover bugaboo rose up and bit them once again, drawing the Hawks back into the game. Three giveaways in the final 2:47 helped the Hawks halve the deficit (32-26) before another Dyer hoop with 32 seconds left on the first-half clock sent the Mustangs to the break up by eight.
The Mustangs outshot the Hawks 48%-37% over the opening 20 minutes with Fain being the primary contributor, going 4-6 from the field, including 3-3 from behind the arc, on the way to 12 first-half points.
The sophomore sharpshooter took his hot hand into the second half, too, extending the Mustang lead to 11 points with his final triple of the evening coming 23 seconds into the final period. The Hawks answered back with a pair of layups to close to 37-30 but a Karlberg trey triggered an 11-1 burst that created some much-needed separation. During the run, the Mustangs got baskets from Brown and a pair of Dyer buckets sandwiched around a Logan layup that propelled the club to a 48-31 advantage with 15:52 left to play.
The Mustangs weren’t done either. After a Saharan putback dunk stopped the skein, the Mustangs started another one, outscoring the Hawks 9-3 in less than two minutes to extend the lead to 57-36. Logan, who tallied six points during the run, fueled it with a putback jam and Karlberg capped it with another triple at the 12:45 mark.
Over the next nine-plus minutes, that advantage never dropped below double digits as the Mustangs appeared to be on the way to an easy win. But, that wasn’t going to happen. Down 60-41 with just over 10 minutes left to play, the Hawks began to chip away at the deficit. They started with four straight points and even when the Mustangs lengthened the lead back to 19 points (64-45) on a pair of Brown charity tosses at the 8:01 mark, the Hawks kept coming. A lightning-quick, 9-0 burst in a 1:36 window made it a 64-54 game with plenty of time (6:14) left.
Fain retaliated with a jumper and Logan added back-to-back baskets, lengthening the lead out to 70-56 with 3:50 remaining and setting up the Hawks’ final rush.
Fain led all scorers with 23 points, finishing 4-5 from long range, and 7-11 overall. Logan complemented him with a season-high 21 points and his 15 rebounds enabled him to notch his team-best fifth double-double of the campaign. Dyer struggled once again from the field but the hard-nosed senior muscled his way to 15 points.
With this brief, two-game homestand behind them, the Mustangs go back out on the road Tuesday, traveling to Costa Mesa to meet up with Vanguard, one of those five teams with a 2-4 conference mark.