Game Recap By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
All things considered, the Mustangs could have found themselves in a worse position in the closing moments of Saturday’s game in El Cajon.
Master’s trailed San Diego Christian by as many as 16 points in the first half and by three with two minutes to play, but TMU still positioned itself to at least force overtime.
On the Mustangs’ final defensive possession, with the score tied, their best on-ball defender Darryl McDowell-White forced San Diego’s Derek Novsek into a difficult jumper that missed.
But McDowell-White was called for a foul, and Novsek hit a pair of free throws with 11 seconds remaining to push the Hawks back in front.
Then, Hansel Atencia knifed through San Diego’s defense, earning a contested shot from close range right before the buzzer. The shot, unlike others Atencia took on a night when he eclipsed 1,000 career points, didn’t splash through the net, and the No. 2-ranked Mustangs fell 82-80, snapping TMU’s eight-game winning streak.
“Just shows you how tough the conference is,” said TMU coach Kelvin Starr.
Atencia and Brock Gardner scored 19 points each to lead Master’s (8-2, 2-1 in Golden State Athletic Conference). Atencia entered the night needing 14 points to reach 1,000 in less than three seasons as a Mustang after transferring from Liberty University in Virginia.
With TMU trailing by three with 2:02 on the clock, Atencia drove toward the basket and dished to Tim Soares, who made a layup while being fouled. His free throw gave him 11 points to go with 11 rebounds and evened the score.
Down two with 34 seconds left, Atencia continued his playmaking ways.
The point guard sprinted into the paint, reversed course toward the three-point arc, then darted back to the hoop, losing his defender and tying the score.
But Novsek wasn’t finished.
The San Diego sharpshooter, who entered the night second in the GSAC in scoring after leading the conference in that category a year ago, earned two free throws to set the final score. Novsek tossed in a game-high 27 points on 8-of-16 shooting, 3-of-6 from behind the arc. He made eight of 10 free throws.
In an interesting coincidence, Novsek also reached 1,000 career points in the game.
Jared Nyivih added 16 points for San Diego (3-5, 1-1) in what was one of the best wins in program history.
“Tough loss, but we have to give them credit for the way they played,” said Atencia. “We have to learn from this and get better and think about the next game.
“I think there were so many things we could’ve done better on defense, but we are going to watch the film and see what we need to do to get better.”
Defending the three-point line would be a start.
The Hawks made 6-of-10 shots from long-range in the first half, taking a 16-point lead at the 9:33 mark when Novsek knocked down a triple. San Diego led 47-38 at half.
TMU made 4-of-16 shots from three-point range and allowed the Hawks to score 19 second-chance points.
San Diego pushed the lead back to 12 midway through the second half on another Novsek 3-pointer.
TMU tied the score in the closing minutes but never pulled ahead. The Mustangs’ final lead came on a Tim Soares jumper — with 17:52 remaining in the first half.
“It was an uphill battle all night,” Starr said.
Here’s the box score.