Game Recap By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
A share of the Golden State Athletic Conference title wasn’t in play on Tuesday night.
But after securing a 105-50 non-conference win over the University of Saint Katherine inside The MacArthur Center, the Mustangs had an opportunity to talk about what it would take Saturday at Westmont to earn at least a piece of the program’s first-ever regular season crown.
Master’s, which saw seven players score in double figures Tuesday, can secure at least a co-championship with a win over the Warriors. The Mustangs lead Arizona Christian by 2 ½ games with three to go.
“Westmont is always a fun atmosphere to play in,” said sophomore forward Anika Neuman, who scored 12 points against Saint Katherine. “We have to bring everything we know we have.”
Said Stephanie Soares, who recorded her NAIA Division 1-leading 23rd double-double of the season Tuesday, “Westmont has great three-point shooters. We have to mentally be prepared. We have to play to our full potential.”
That wasn’t a problem Tuesday as the Mustangs cruised to their 15th straight win, the program’s longest streak since 2015-16 when it won 16 in a row. This was TMU’s last non-conference game of the regular season, the team finishing that portion of its schedule 9-3
The Mustangs are 23-4 overall and 14-1 in GSAC play. They beat Westmont 58-48 on Jan. 12 at TMU in a game that lived up to its billing as a matchup of two of the NAIA’s best defenses.
Neither team shot north of 33%, with the Mustangs holding Westmont to 14 points in the first half.
The Warriors cut what had been a 14-point deficit to four with 5:06 left in the fourth quarter. But Neuman scored two of her game-high 14 points on the Mustangs’ next possession, and TMU was able to extend its advantage back to double digits over the next several minutes.
Neuman knows the rematch will be another physical matchup between teams ranked in the top five nationally in scoring defense.
“We expect them to be aggressive and all that Westmont is,” she said. “But we know who we are.”
Tuesday, Soares finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks. Hannah Ostrom scored 14 points, a season high, while Sabrina Thompson followed with 12 points and eight assists.
Rebekah Throns, Jamilee Iddings and Jessica Soares each scored 10 points, with Soares adding 11 rebounds for her first double-double of the season.
Here’s the box score.
Throns was pleased with TMU’s shot selection and its man-to-man defense. She said a key to Saturday’s game will be making Westmont uncomfortable.
“We need to push them out of their offense,” she said. “Westmont runs a whole bunch of offenses, and they’re very disciplined in how they do it. If we can stretch them and push them out of their regular rotations, if we can make them uncomfortable with our defense, I think that will be crucial.”
The closest Master’s came to a regular season title in recent years came in 2015-16, when the team won 16 games in a row at one point and finished in second place with a 14-2 record in GSAC play.
The first-place team went 15-1: It was the team Master’s will play Saturday at 5:30 p.m.