The Master’s University women’s basketball team squared off against No. 1 seed and No. 1 nationally-ranked Freed-Hardeman University (Tenn.) in the second round of the 37th Annual NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship Friday afternoon.
After four quarters, the Lions handed the fifth-seeded Lady Mustangs a 79-58 loss. The 17th-ranked Lady Mustangs’ season concluded at 23-9 following their second straight appearance in the tourney’s round of 16. Notably, TMU’s 2016-17 campaign marked its twelfth 20-win season in program history.
Additionally, TMU’s trip to the national tournament marked its fifth straight national tournament appearance and their twelfth overall in program history. Of their 12 total trips to the national tournament, the Lady Mustangs now have a combined 8-12 NAIA post-season mark.
Commenting on Friday’s loss, ninth-year TMU head coach Dan Waldeck said, “It’s always tough to see the season come to an end. I loved coaching this group, and am so proud of who they’ve become and how they improved. They have owned our culture from day one, and have worked extremely hard each day. Today just wasn’t our day. We had a tough time hitting shots and getting the stops we needed. Freed is 35-0 for a reason, and we just weren’t able to overcome their second quarter run. Our group of seniors leaves an outstanding example of how to carry the torch moving forward, and I believe my group of underclassmen will do that with excellence. More great days lie ahead, but for now, we’ll celebrate a season well played.”
At the conclusion of the 2016-17 campaign and his ninth season at the helm, Coach Waldeck has a 182-98 career record at TMU.
The Lions led the Lady Mustangs for the majority of the first quarter until a 14-9 TMU run tied the game at 14-all at the 2:05 mark. TMU kept the Lions in check for the rest of the first stanza and even tied the score at 19-19 heading into the second frame.
Unfortunately, the Lions outscored the Lady Mustangs 20-7 in the second quarter and cruised to a 39-26 halftime advantage. At the break, TMU was 10-26 (38%) from the field, 2-7 (29%) on three-pointers, and 4-5 (80%) on free throws.
Freed-Hardeman’s dominance carried over into the second half as the Lions controlled virtually all aspects of play and even posted a game-high 26-point lead (70-44) at the 8:27 mark of the fourth quarter. TMU was outscored 24-18 in the third quarter and 16-14 in the fourth en route to the season-ending loss.
TMU freshman Hannah Forrar led the Lady Mustangs in scoring with 15 points. Playing her final game as a Lady Mustang, senior forward Bianca Cubello scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Collectively, TMU finished Friday’s game by going 20-54 (37%) from the field, 5-16 (31%) from behind the arc, and 13-16 (81%) from the charity stripe.
Despite the abrupt halt to their season, the Lady Mustangs now return back to Santa Clarita with their heads held high as they anticipate a strong 2017-18 season.