By Don Gilmore, Assistant Sports Information Director
Dan Waldeck knew it was there. He had seen it in practice.
It hadn’t shown itself in recent games.
Until Saturday evening.
“It was awesome to see us play with an identity of toughness today,” The Master’s University women’s basketball coach said after a 78-50 win over San Diego Christian at Grossmont College. “The girls have been working so hard, but we hadn’t seen it show up in our play until tonight when we saw some fruits of hard work and dedication to the team.”
What Waldeck was referring to was a return to hard-nosed play by his Mustangs that fueled the win and gave it a split of a two-game road trip.
The No. 15 Mustangs evened their Golden State Athletic Conference record at 2-2 while improving to 11-4 overall.
The toughness showed up in the paint, on the glass, and on defense.
The Mustangs outscored the Hawks inside 40-12, outrebounded them 55-30, and limited them to 23% shooting from the field.
Ten of TMU’s first 12 points were in the paint, including a layup from freshman Jessica Soares that gave the Mustangs a 14-9 lead midway through the opening period.
Hannah Ostrom‘s fast-break layup with 1:33 left in the stanza vaulted the Mustangs to their largest lead of the quarter (23-16) before the Hawks closed with a 7-0 run to tie it after one.
The TMU defense took over in the second quarter, and the offense played off it to put the Mustangs ahead to stay.
Limiting the Hawks to 2-of-14 shooting in the period and holding them scoreless for nearly six minutes, the Mustangs used an 8-0 run, sparked by a Rebekah Throns‘ 3-pointer, to move in front. When Soares converted a layup with 1:44 remaining in the half, TMU had its largest lead (39-27) to that point and one they would take to intermission.
At the break, the Mustangs enjoyed 59 percent accuracy (16-27) from the field with Hannah Forrar and Ostrom combining for 16 points.
That strong second stanza paved the way for a dominating second half where the Mustangs methodically pulled away.
That was evidenced over the initial 3:37 of the third quarter as the Mustangs outscored the Hawks 13-2 to take a commanding 52-29 lead. Nine of those 13 points came from freshman post-Anika Neuman, who was strong inside and deadly outside.
The Mustangs led after three quarters 59-37.
Neuman’s layup with 7:09 left to play gave the Mustangs their largest lead of the game, 69-39, and they cruised the rest of the way.
Neuman, who scored 11 points in the second half, led all scorers and paced five Mustangs in double figures with 15 points. Ostrom added a dozen points, Forrar chipped in with 11 more, and Throns and Soares, who hauled down a career-high 14 rebounds, finished with 10 apiece.
Hannah Throns, Rebekah’s sister who was making her Mustang debut, impressed the opposition and her coaches alike with nine points, nine rebounds, and four assists in just 18 minutes of action.
“Hannah and Jessica (Soares) were great tonight,” Waldeck said. “Many people played different positions, and they handled it with class and togetherness. I’m very proud of our response after a tough loss the other night.”
Master’s hopes for more of that Tuesday evening when the Mustangs take a brief respite from GSAC play to welcome St. Katherine to Bross Court for a 5 p.m. start.