By: Mason Nesbitt, Sports Information Director
For the first time in program history, The Master’s University women’s basketball team was voted No. 1 in the NAIA Division 1 Coaches’ Poll on Wednesday.
The Mustangs — No. 3 in the previous rankings — are off to their best start ever, winning each of their first 18 games. They will face their toughest test of the year Saturday evening in Santa Barbara when they play No. 4 Westmont College. First place in Golden State Athletic Conference standings is on the line. Both teams enter at 6-0 in conference play.
Tip-off Saturday is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. The game will be live streamed at GoMustangs.com/Watch. Live stats will be available at the same link.
Master’s head coach Dan Waldeck said it was humbling to be recognized by coaches from around the country for a season that is off to such a strong start. The Mustangs have outscored their opponents by an average of 25.8 points per game and have beaten seven teams ranked in NAIA Division 1 or Division 2.
“I’m thankful to the Lord for the platform to put Christ on display through a beautiful game,” Waldeck said. “God has gifted our team, and they know they have been extremely faithful at working daily to be great stewards of God’s gifts.”
In the big picture, though, Waldeck doesn’t expect his team to get caught up in Wednesday’s news. The Mustangs still must navigate a treacherous GSAC schedule that includes two matchups apiece with No. 4 Westmont College and No. 5 Vanguard University.
“It’s just a number,” Waldeck said of his team’s ranking. “We want to continue to earn it everyday and every game. Our attention is focused on competing against an excellent Westmont team this Saturday. Giving our best and improving in that game remains our collective priority.”
Despite winning the first GSAC regular season title in program history in 2019, the Mustangs lost two out of three to Westmont overall, winning the game at Master’s but dropping a regular-season meeting at Westmont and losing to the Warriors again in the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament championship game.
The contests between these two program have often been low-scoring, defensive matchups. Westmont held on to win, 49-46, last year in Santa Barbara on a day the Mustangs made only 3-of-17 three-point tries.
This year’s Master’s team has shown an ability to overcome slow offensive starts.
Saturday at then No. 22 Menlo, the Mustangs scored 16 points in the first half but exploded after the break to pull away for a 72-54 win.