Santa Clarita, Calif. — On an evening when defenses ruled, 20th-ranked Biola showed why it owns one of the best in the country, limiting The Master’s College to its lowest shooting percentage of the year in a 56-46 win over the Mustangs on Bross Court.
The Mustangs, who shot just 29% from the field, fell for the fifth straight time and lost their third consecutive GSAC game, falling to 1-3 in conference play and 4-8 overall.
TMC certainly didn’t take a back seat to the Eagles on the defensive end, holding the visitors to just 33% accuracy, their finest showing of the season.
Second-year head coach Ken Sugarman praised his club’s defensive effort, saying, “We stepped up our concentration on the defensive end and played with real purpose. I thought our perimeter guys really defended their guards well, too. There were no easy shots for either team.”
That defense showed up early when the Mustangs kept the Eagles off the scoreboard for the first 3:25 of play and limited the visitors to just nine points through the opening 10 minutes.
Unfortunately, the Mustangs couldn’t parlay that defense into production at the other end. They didn’t hit the 10-point mark until 8:07 was left in the first half when Evan Jenkins (Los Angeles, CA) dropped a couple of free throws to pull TMC within 13-11.
More stingy defense followed. Biola didn’t score a point for almost three minutes and when Jenkins hit a jumper with 6:28 remaining, the Mustangs had caught the Eagles at 13. No more than two points separated the clubs in the waning moments of the half and that was the margin at the break after Eagle Dakari Archer hit a jumper with 16 seconds on the clock, sending Biola to the locker room up 22-20.
Over the opening 20 minutes, the Mustangs connected at a 22% clip while the Eagles hit 30% of their shots.
Both squads improved their accuracy in the second half, however, defense was still front and center. It wasn’t so apparent at first when Biola ripped off five straight points to go up 27-20. A few minutes later, a Delewis Johnson (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) three-pointer ignited a 7-0 burst and his free throw capped if off as the Mustangs drew within 29-28 with 15:32 left to play.
After the clubs traded three-pointers (Johnson for the Mustangs), the Eagles put the clamps on once again, holding the Mustangs scoreless for over six minutes and using that to create their largest lead of the game, 43-31 at the 8:32 mark.
One more defensive stand by the Eagles proved to be decisive. After a Reid Shackelford layup cut the margin to 49-40 with 4:41 remaining, the Mustangs managed just six points the rest of the way. All of those came on Shackelford trifectas, the latter one slicing the deficit to 50-46 with 59 seconds left to play.
However, those were the final points the Mustangs scored and the Eagles iced the win by scoring their final six points from the line.
Analyzing his team’s inability to shoot consistently, Sugarman closed by saying, “Sometimes your shots just don’t go down. We had some good looks down the stretch in a game that was closer than the final score.”
Johnson led all scorers with 16 points and Shackelford contributed 13 more. Phil Webb (Georgetown, Cayman Islands) ripped down 12 boards in the loss, marking his seventh double-digit rebound effort of his freshman year.
Now, the Mustangs must wait five days to get a chance at ending their losing skid. They’ll travel to Fullerton next Thursday to take on No. 11 Hope International.