In a quirk on its 2013-14 schedule, The Master’s College played an exhibition game Saturday afternoon against NCAA Division I Santa Barbara.
On the other hand, this was a contest that counted for the host Gauchos who played like it was the regular season game it was for them as they allowed the Mustangs to hang around for the first 10 minutes of play before running away to an 81-52 victory.
Despite the loss, the Mustangs’ record stayed at 11-2 while the Gauchos improved to 9-4.
After spotting the Gauchos a quick 3-0 lead, the Mustangs tore off five consecutive points, using a Derrick Fain (Dallas, TX) three-pointer and a Dominique Lanier (Lakewood, CA) layup to move in front 5-3. It would be the only time they would lead as the Gauchos went ahead two possessions later on the front end of a 13-4 run that gave them a 16-9 lead with 14:06 left in the opening half.
On the verge of being blown out, the Mustangs turned to junior Bernard Ireland (Victorville, CA) who single-handedly brought his club back into contention, scoring all six points of a 6-0 burst on a three-pointer and three-point play to draw the Mustangs within 16-15 less than two minutes later.
The Gauchos answered back with an 8-2 surge in a 1:28 window and then just over a minute later they started on a decisive run that created some permanent separation. Up 24-19, the hosts held the Mustangs without a point for over seven minutes while reeling off 15 of their own as they lengthened the advantage to 39-19 at the 4:04 mark of the half.
An Ireland trifecta with 2:32 remaining in the stanza snapped the Mustang scoreless drought and they went to the halftime break down 41-24. Over the first 20 minutes of play, the Mustangs managed just 31% (9-29) accuracy from the field while the Gauchos converted at a 52% (16-31) clip.
That field goal percentage (38.5%) went up for the Mustangs in the second stanza but it wasn’t nearly enough against a relentless Gaucho squad that scored the first eight points of the half to build a 49-24 lead with 17:23 left to play. Just over seven minutes later, a quick 8-2 skein gave the Gauchos their largest lead of the evening, 67-36.
They enjoyed a 30-point margin (69-39, 72-42) twice more before the Mustangs carved a few points out of the deficit down the stretch. Keyed by a pair of Fain charity tosses and capped by an Ireland jumper, the Mustangs outscored the Gauchos 6-1 in a 2:15 window in the waning minutes to make it a 75-52 game before the hosts scored the final six points of the contest.
Fain paced three Mustangs in double figures, scoring a team-high 13 points. Ireland threw in 11 more and Lanier finished with 10 points. Patureau added six points and pulled down a team-best seven rebounds.
Returning to regular-season action on Tuesday, the Mustangs will put their eight-game winning streak on the line at No. 8 Cal State San Marcos.