Few university venues hold the history of Pauley Pavilion. None have matched the legendary success of its UCLA basketball teams.
The Master’s University men’s team experienced a taste of that Tuesday evening before and during a 100-58 exhibition loss to the Bruins.
Playing their third non-counting contest in six days, the Mustangs were overwhelmed by the atmosphere and the skill of the NCAA Division I Bruins during a tough first half before getting more comfortable in a second stanza that displayed what they can do once the regular season opens this Friday.
Commenting on playing at Pauley Pavilion, first-year head coach Kelvin Starr said, “This was the ultimate experience for our kids. They were overwhelmed in the first half but competed well over the final 20 minutes.”
The Bruins scored the game’s first six points and then ripped off a 17-0 run in a 5:16 window to lead 32-6 with 9:23 left in the first half.
Regrouping, the Mustangs played pretty even with the Bruins over the final nine minutes of the stanza, enjoying a 9-3 burst over a two-minute span. Transfer Hansel Atencia triggered it with a three-pointer and Lawrence Russell, Reid Shackelford, and Delewis Johnson added baskets as the Mustangs drew within 46-21 with 2:55 left in the half.
The Mustangs trailed 59-28 at the break after shooting 26% (10-38). Shackelford led the way with seven points while Atencia and Timothy Soares contributed five apiece.
The Bruins shot a sparkling 67% (22-33) from the field, highlighted by 20 points in the paint.
Dealing with the nerves better in the second half, the Mustangs proved to be resilient and showed flashes of brilliance. Some of those came from Russell, Atencia, and Shackelford, who combined for 24 second-half points. Russell drained a three-pointer coming out of halftime, Shackelford hit another from behind the arc at the 17:46 mark, and when Atencia sandwiched a jumper and a layup around a trifecta, the Mustangs had cut the deficit to 70-47 with 11:19 left to play.
Although the club managed just 11 points the rest of the way, they played much more competitively in the second half, shooting right at 40% (12-30) over the final 20 minutes.
Shackelford, who drained a trio of three-pointers, paced three Mustangs in double figures, scoring a team-high 15 points. Russell notched a double-double with 13 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, and added team-highs of five steals and four assists. Atencia chipped in with 12 more.
Following the game, Starr praised the turnout of TMU fans and was encouraged by his squad’s second-half play, saying, “I enjoyed the way they responded in the second half, competing well regardless of the score.”
Now, the Mustangs turn to the regular season that starts Friday evening when they take on the University of Antelope Valley in the first round of the West Coast Baptist Tournament in Lancaster. The Mustangs and Pioneers will tip off at 5:00pm.