Preston Wynne drained seven three-pointers en route to a game-high 23 points and No. 9 Vanguard used a decisive second-half run to distance itself from The Master’s College, beating the Mustangs 77-56 before a partisan crowd at Bross Court.
Just when it looked like the Mustangs were about to turn the corner following last Saturday’s big win at San Diego Christian, the Lions swaggered into the MacArthur Center and brought the hosts down for the fourth time in five outings. The Mustangs fell to 2-5 in the GSAC and 14-8 overall.
The loss seemed inevitable in the first two minutes of play when the Lions scored the game’s first five points, highlighted by the first of Wynne’s trifectas, but Chris Patureau (Houston, TX) sparked a 9-2 charge that put the Mustangs up 9-7 at the 13:54 mark of the first half. Patureau scored the first three points of the run, Korey Anderson (Clovis, CA) added a pair of baskets, and Derrick Fain (Dallas, TX) chipped in with a jumper.
That two-point lead lasted all of one minute as the Lions roared back with six straights to take a 13-9 lead, one they would never relinquish and which soon grew to 21-11 with 9:12 left in the stanza following a quick, 8-0 burst. Three more treys punctuated the bursts, including one by Wynne, the newly-anointed NAIA Men’s Basketball Player of the Week.
The Mustangs were able to chop the deficit in half (26-21) following an Anderson layup with 5:54 remaining, however, the Lions responded with a 5-0 skein and went to halftime ahead 36-26.
Paced by four Wynne three-pointers, the Lions shot 47% (7-15) from behind the arc and 48% (13-27) altogether. Meanwhile, the Mustangs hit 44% (12-27) from the field, including a paltry 1-9 from long range.
Neither of the percentages from long distance changed that much in the second half as the Lions showed no hesitation in casting away and filling it up, too.
Wynne’s first three-pointer of the second half and fifth of the game with 15:23 left to play extended the Vanguard advantage to a then-game-high 14 points (44-30) before the Mustangs realized the straits they were in and put together their best stretch of play on the evening.
Down 47-32 at the 14-minute mark, they reeled off eight straight points, ignited and capped by Anderson, who contributed a layup and a free throw. Reid Shackelford (Murrieta, CA) buried a three-pointer and Fain tossed in a jumper as the Mustangs crept within seven points, 47-40.
A Chris Gorman layup put an end to the budding rally and fueled a decisive 8-0 skein that grew the lead to 55-40 with 8:17 left on the clock. The Mustangs never got closer than 13 points (56-43) the rest of the way as the Lions showed no mercy, showcasing Wynne whose consecutive trifectas sparked a 10-0 burst for a 66-43 advantage with just over five minutes remaining.
The lead grew to a game-high 25 points (73-48) on a Keith Mason basket at the 3:10 mark before the Mustangs put together a modest 7-0 run that Derek Walters (Fresno, CA) closed with a triple at the 1:42 mark.
Wynne’s game-high total paced three teammates in double figures while Anderson was the only Mustang in double digits, scoring 11 points and notching his second double-double of the season with a game-high 10 rebounds.
Still looking for that win that will propel them back into the GSAC race, the Mustangs set their sights on Arizona Christian this Saturday in Phoenix. The Mustangs upset the then-No. 7 Firestorm in a thrilling, double-overtime contest a little over two weeks ago.