Santa Clarita, Calif. — On an evening when point guard Evan Jenkins returned to the starting lineup and The Master’s College shot nearly 60% from the field the Mustangs couldn’t overcome a bevy of turnovers and lost to visiting San Diego Christian 78-73 on Bross Court.
The disappointing defeat dropped the Mustangs to 4-7 overall and 1-2 in the GSAC.
The game had so much potential as the Mustangs shot extremely well and won the rebounding battle, too. However, 24 miscues translated into 29 Hawk points, too much for the Mustangs to overcome.
Second-year head coach Ken Sugarman made mention of those mistakes following the game, saying, “…we didn’t take good care of the ball which turned into easy transition points for SDC. We must be able to overcome multiplying our mistakes by having better emotional control.”
The Mustangs, who wound up shooting 58% from the field, showed their accuracy early, hitting four of their first six shots to take an 8-6 lead. The first of those came from Jenkins (Los Angeles, CA), who was back on the court for the first time since October 31 when he injured his hand in the first five minutes of an 83-71 win over Cal Tech.
The Hawks responded with four straight points to reclaim the lead, setting the stage for a seesaw first half that featured 10 ties and 14 lead changes. Neither team led by more than four points during the opening 20 minutes and that came at the 7:33 mark when Phil Webb’s (Georgetown, Cayman Islands) layup gave the Mustangs a 26-22 advantage.
That margin was safe for less than two minutes as the Hawks used a 6-1 burst to move in front by one (28-27) and then the clubs traded leads before a pair of Reid Shackelford (Murrieta, CA) free throws and another Anderson layup propelled the Mustangs to a 33-32 lead at halftime.
Shackelford keyed the team’s 59% (13-22) effort from the field during the first half, going 6-8 (including a couple of three-pointers) en route to 17 points. Although the Hawks managed just 40% (12-30) accuracy, they turned 15 Mustang turnovers into 14 points to trail by just one.
It was more of the same back-and-forth during the opening few minutes of the second half until a Trevor English three-pointer sparked an 11-1 Hawk burst in a 2:52 span that vaulted the visitors to a 52-42 lead with just over 13 minutes left to play.
Rocked back on their heels by the Hawks’ surge, the Mustangs fought back in similar fashion, outscoring SDC 9-1 in a 2:04 window. Delewis Johnson (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) scored eight of those points, sandwiching two trifectas around his layup and a JP Webster free throw to pull the Mustangs within 53-51 at the 11:07 mark.
However, the Hawks wouldn’t let the Mustangs get any closer. Holding onto a precarious two-point (55-53) lead with just over 10 minutes left in the game, the Hawks ripped off seven straight points to extend the margin to nine and the Mustangs never got closer than four points the rest of the way.
A Webb layup with 5:27 remaining made it a 62-58 game and a Shackelford trey, the last of four on the evening, drew the Mustangs within 68-64 at the 2:31 mark. But, two costly turnovers translated into four straight Hawk points and the visitors held on to win.
Shackelford’s 27 points, forged on 10-16 shooting, including 4-7 from behind the arc, led all scorers. It was his second-highest total (32 at Menlo on December 10) of the regular season. Jenkins was solid in his return, scoring 14 points on 6-7 shooting while Anderson finished with 11.
Webb just missed another double-double, tossing in nine points and taking down a game-high 10 rebounds.
Now, the Mustangs have just a day to get ready for 20th-ranked Biola (16-1) that comes to Bross Court on Saturday evening riding an eight-game winning streak and sitting atop the GSAC at 3-0. Game time is scheduled for 7:30pm.