After a game that featured his club’s seventh 100-point performance of the season, The Master’s University men’s basketball head coach Kelvin Starr was more interested in talking about defense.
“I was most pleased with the entire team’s defensive effort,” Starr said. “Holding any team to 30% shooting from the floor is going to win you some games.”
It did on Saturday evening as the Mustangs raced away from the University of Alberta 104-64 on the second and final day of the Tom Byron Classic at Westmont in Santa Barbara.
The fifth-ranked Mustangs’ 13th straight victory improved their record to 14-1.
The Mustangs clamped down on the Golden Bears from the start, forcing them to miss their first six shots en route to a 13-6 lead.
When the Bears pulled within three points (16-13) at the 14:01 mark of the first half, the Mustangs used a 7-0 spurt, capped by a Mike Taylor dunk, to extend their advantage to 23-13.
The Bears didn’t go quietly, but eventually they couldn’t compete with the Mustangs’ long-distance precision.
A Travis Yenor 3-pointer with 7:56 left in the stanza lengthened TMU’s lead to 32-19 and back-to-back treys by Lawrence Russell and Delewis Johnson five minutes later gave the club a 15-point cushion.
The Mustangs buried six shots from behind the arc in the opening period and took a 47-34 lead into halftime.
They were even more prolific from long range in the second half and that accuracy led to decisive runs that turned the game into a rout.
Hansel Atencia’s trifecta with 17:58 left to play sparked a half-opening, 13-0 burst that doubled TMU’s advantage (60-34). Russell also drained a 3-pointer during the run.
Atencia was far from done. The last of his three consecutive triples in a 76-second window handed the Mustangs a 30-point advantage with 5:55 remaining. The junior guard finished with a career-high six threes on the way to a game-high 20 points.
Fittingly, Keegan Scott’s 3-pointer with under a minute left finished off the scoring.
The Mustangs went 19-for-38 from behind the arc.
Atencia, who also handed out a game-high six assists, was joined in double figures by Johnson (17), Russell (15), and Tim Soares (14 that included two 3-pointers).
Brock Gardner added nine points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.
“We did shoot the ball really well tonight,” said Starr. “Now the real season begins.”