Russell Byrd hit 7 of 10 three-pointers and scored a team-high 26 points in the Mustangs 109-66 win over the Bobcats.
Once The Master’s College found the range from behind the arc Wednesday evening there was nothing visiting UC Merced could do about it as the Mustangs shot their way to a record-setting, 109-66 victory before an enthusiastic crowd in the MacArthur Center.
Pouring in a school-record 18 three-pointers and scoring a season-high in points, the Mustangs won their second game in a row and improved to 5-8.
It didn’t take long for the Mustangs to take control, scoring the game’s first 17 points in the opening 5:11 of play. Reid Shackelford (Murrieta, CA) triggered the run with a layup five seconds into action and Russell Byrd set the outside tone for the evening with two three-pointers, the second of which capped the skein.
That was just the beginning as the Mustangs drained nine more in the opening half, finishing with 11 at a staggering 85% (11-13) clip. A J. P. Webster (Vallejo, CA) layup with 13:42 left in the half gave the Mustangs their first 20-point (22-2) lead of the evening. A little over a minute later, the margin reached 33-8 after Harrison White (Winston-Salem, NC), Logan Quinn (Little Rock, AR), and Byrd canned shots from behind the arc.
Three-pointers from White and Shackelford, and a Korey Anderson (Clovis, CA) layup extended the advantage to 30 points (41-11) with half of the stanza remaining as the Mustangs faced little resistance from an outmanned Bobcat squad. Byrd’s fifth and final trey of the half made it a 50-13 game at the 7:40 mark and when Dylan Dyer (Temecula, CA) drained the club’s last three-pointer of the half, the lead had mushroomed to 40 points (64-24). The Mustangs went to halftime up 67-25.
The halftime numbers were astonishing. A season-high 67 points on 69% (27-39) shooting, including the remarkable accuracy from behind the arc. Byrd had 20 points at the break and six teammates had at least five points apiece.
Even though the game was over by that point, there was still more to look forward to on a truly prolific evening. The Mustangs cooled off somewhat in the second half although it was hard to tell in the first couple of minutes when Shackelford and Evan Jenkins (Los Angeles, CA) drained three-pointers on consecutive possessions.
Fittingly, the Mustangs took their largest lead (86-37) of the evening when White canned a trifecta with 12:28 left, leaving one bit of unfinished business on a record-breaking night. That moment came with 4:06 showing on the clock when Hans Karlberg (Anchorage, AK) drained the club’s 18th and final three-pointer of the evening, breaking the old mark of 17 set against Huntingdon (AL) during the 1999-2000 season.
The Mustangs finished the evening a remarkable 18-28 (64%) from behind the arc and while they cooled down to 50% overall in the second half, they still shot a superb 61% from the field. At the other end, they limited the Bobcats to 32% accuracy, including a paltry 5-28 (18%) from long distance.
Byrd led all scorers with 26 points in one of his best all-around performances of the season, going 9-15 from the field, highlighted by a 7-10 showing from behind the arc, to go along with seven rebounds and five assists.
Nick Paul (London, England) added 14 points and notched his first double-double with 11 rebounds, White tossed in 13 more, and Shackelford had 10. Not to be overlooked was the play of Jenkins, who dished out a game-high eight assists, and Anderson, who took down a team-high 12 rebounds and scored eight points.
The Mustangs are hoping their two shooting performances so far this week carry into the weekend when they jump back into GSAC play at William Jessup in Redding this Saturday.