The Master’s University men’s basketball coach Kelvin Starr’s to-do list was relatively simple entering Tuesday night’s 108-58 win over visiting Westcliff University: He wanted the Mustangs to be disciplined defensively. He wanted them to challenge every shot. He wanted them to bar the winless Warriors from any second-chance opportunities.
Did Master’s deliver the goods?
“Pretty good for the most part,” said Starr, whose team improved to 6-1. “Particularly in the first half, for sure.”
Master’s led 58-22 at the break behind 57 percent shooting. It held Westcliff to 28 percent from the field over that span, 34 percent for the game.
Center Tim Soares led seven Mustangs in double figures with 21 points. It came on the heels of a career-best 27-point outburst Saturday against Life Pacific.
“Our goal has been to get the ball in the post and let Tim go to work,” said forward Brock Gardner, who finished with 11 points. “And I think he’s had a little bit of a confidence boost.”
Mustang Lawrence Russell again flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Master’s dished out 28 assists on 41 buckets as a team. Hansel Atencia (15 points, six assists), Delewis Johnson (14 points, seven boards), Mike Taylor (12 points, seven boards) and Darryl McDowell-White (10 points) all finished in double figures scoring for the Mustangs, who made 13 three-point baskets on 33 attempts.
Soares blocked four shots, and the team tallied 13 steals on the eve of a five-day break.
The Mustangs will come back Monday before playing UC Merced on the road on Dec. 1.
“Coach reminded us right after the game, ‘You have a couple days off. Do what you need to, to stay in shape because if you don’t, it’ll be noticeable when you get back,’” said Gardner, whose Mustangs have experienced a little of everything in the season’s early going.
TMU routed Caltech by 42. It sweated out a grueling exhibition win over NCAA Division 2 Concordia University Irvine. It lost its only road game to this point, 87-84 at Antelope Valley. And it avenged the loss exactly two weeks later in commanding fashion.
Tuesday, the Warriors went the way of Caltech, struggling to keep pace with a Mustang team picked fifth in the preseason NAIA coaches’ top 25 and averaging 95 points a game.
To be fair: Westcliff is a first-year program. The Warriors began recruiting this summer after the school announced in July it’d be starting its fledgling athletic department with men’s basketball and track and field.
For context, Master’s has been playing men’s basketball since 1965.
Tuesday wasn’t Westcliff’s introduction to Golden State Athletic Conference hoops, though. The Warriors had already played three GSAC opponents.
Hope International, ranked No. 10 in the country, won by 60. Menlo College by 54. And, most recently, No. 25 Westmont College by 39.
That trio of teams also represents the tough road that lies ahead of Master’s in conference play, where the Mustangs are looking to win the first GSAC regular season title in program history. Last year, TMU won the conference’s tournament title and advanced to the second round of the NAIA national tournament.
Here’s the box score.
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