In an NAIA Men’s Basketball Top 25 matchup, No. 23 TMU upended No. 6 Biola 91-76 Saturday night on Bross Court.
The win improved TMU’s record to 19-3 overall and 8-3 in the Golden State Athletic Conference. Biola’s record moved to 22-3 (8-3 GSAC). Currently, both TMU and Biola sit tied for second-place in the GSAC’s standings. In addition, TMU is now 5-2 against ranked opponents this season.
Biola opened Saturday’s showdown by leading the Mustangs for the first three minutes of play until Reid Shackelford put TMU up 7-4 after draining a long-range three-pointer.
Shackelford’s trifecta was the spark that TMU’s high-scoring offense needed as the Mustangs went on to lead the Eagles for the rest of the game. Shackelford, who was named the GSAC’s Men’s Basketball Player of the Week on Monday, finished the evening by leading all scorers with 28 points after going 7-12 from behind the arc.
On two separate occasions in the first half, TMU enjoyed a 12-point advantage. The first came at the 3:26 mark when Evan Jenkins drove in a layup, putting the Mustangs ahead 42-30. About a minute later (2:03) freshman standout Tim Soares delivered a slam-dunk, increasing TMU’s lead to 44-32.
The Mustangs closed the first stanza leading Biola 48-37. In the first half, TMU went 17-30 (56%) from the field, 7-14 (50%) from behind the arc, and 7-8 (87%) on free throws. Mustang newcomer Lawrence Russell paced TMU in scoring in the first half by draining 12 points, while Soares followed with 10.
After intermission, the Mustangs enjoyed a double-figure advantage for the majority of the second half. However, things got close with just under 10 minutes left to play after Biola’s Caelan Tiongson scored a pair of free throws, cutting TMU’s lead to 65-59.
But TMU remained resilient, and as a result, kept Biola at arm’s length for the rest of the evening. In fact, the Mustangs’ largest lead of the evening (17 points) came with just 28 seconds left to play when Russell scored a three-pointer, putting the Mustangs up 91-74. And while the Eagles would score once more in the final 20 seconds of play, the game was well out of reach as the Mustangs closed the evening with a 91-76 victory.
As mentioned earlier, Shackelford’s 28 points led all scorers. Russell finished the evening with an impressive 22 points, while Soares and Delewis Jonhson would combine for 24 points. Elsewhere, Soares grabbed eight rebounds and posted four blocks, while Russell tallied six assists and three steals. As team, the Mustangs went 31-59 (52%) from the field, 13-28 on three-pointers (46%), and 16-22 (72%) on free throws.
In contrast, TMU’s stout defense kept Eagles quiet by allowing Biola to only go 28-60 (38%) from the field and 3-12 (25%) on three-pointers.
“The guys made some big plays tonight,” commented first-year TMU head coach Kelvin Starr. “Lawrence [Russell] played great, and Reid [Shackelford] hit some big time shots. That’s what you have to do when you play against a prolific defensive program like Biola. This is a big win for TMU basketball. We have put ourselves in position to play for first-place in the conference as we play Hope International this Thursday. HIU is another great defensive team.”
The Mustangs now have a chance to move into the GSAC’s driver seat as they play receiving-votes Hope International University (19-5, 8-2 GSAC) on Thursday in Fullerton at 7:30 p.m. The last time the two teams met was on January 7 where the Royals beat TMU 88-56 on Bross Court.