Game Recap By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
The Master’s University men’s basketball team learned Tuesday that it had been named one of the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ teams of the week.
The No. 6-ranked Mustangs were the NAIA representative after winning three games against quality opponents between Dec. 31 and Jan. 6. Iowa State was the NCAA Division 1 pick.
Hours later, Master’s turned its full attention to a new challenge, cruising past Westcliff University, 90-63, behind Hansel Atencia‘s team-high 23 points and Tim Soares‘ eighth double-double of the year.
With the win, the Mustangs (15-2) remained unbeaten for the seventh straight game and extended their home winning streak to 30 games.
TMU last lost on Bross Court on Jan. 7, 2017.
Tuesday, Soares owned the paint from the start. He flushed four dunks before halftime and finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.
The junior center made 8-of-12 shots, showing the power and aggression coach Kelvin Starr said will be key to TMU’s matchup with Westmont College on Saturday.
“Tim picked up right where he left off last game,” Starr said. “He was engaged. He was playing hard. He was leading. I’m excited about where he’s at.”
Soares, Atencia and Delewis Johnson combined for 47 of TMU’s 54 first-half points, with Johnson continuing his string of strong performances.
Monday, the senior wing was named the Golden State Athletic Conference Player of the Week after averaging 19.7 points, seven rebounds and 3.3 assists last week as the Mustangs took down the University of Calgary, No. 25 William Jessup and Menlo College.
The last two wins came against GSAC rivals and positioned TMU in second place behind No. 15 Vanguard University, which is off to a 4-0 start in conference play. The Lions are 16-0 overall and will host TMU in Costa Mesa nine days from now.
First, though, the Mustangs will welcome Westmont to The MacArthur Center on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Warriors are 3-2 in GSAC play and 9-4 overall.
Tuesday’s game gave Master’s a chance to tune-up against a non-conference opponent.
The Mustangs led by as many as 29 in the first half, asserting their collective will much the same way Soares was doing individually. At one point, the center caught a pass on the edge of the paint, spun to the middle and threw it down with two hands.
“It’s great for us that Tim is playing well right now before Westmont,” said Atencia, who dished out five assists and made nine of his 15 shots.
Johnson finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, and Michael Taylor added 12 points, 12 rebounds and a breakaway, windmill dunk after halftime.
“Mike was tremendous,” Soares said. “He was unstoppable on the offensive boards. He was stronger than everyone on the court.”
Here’s the box score.
Darryl McDowell-White contributed 10 points, six assists, two blocks and two steals for the Mustangs, who swept the two-game season series from Westcliff (2-16). Master’s went 11-1 in non-conference games and will close the regular season now with 13 GSAC contests.