In good faith, Delewis Johnson stood up off the bench, shuffled to the edge of the court and stuck out his hand.
Hodges Bailey had just buried the Mustangs’ 21st three-pointer near the end of a 113-50 win over visiting Bethesda University on Tuesday, and, by any standard of athletic etiquette, he deserved a high-five.
Bailey reached out his arm. The chasm was too wide. Johnson settled for slapping his own palm.
It was seemingly the only play of the night that lacked effort. The only shot that missed, too.
Master’s tied the program’s single-game three-point mark (21, set early last year), played suffocating defense and ran away with its first contest in more than a week.
Mustang Brock Gardner led all scorers with 24 points, on nine shots. Teammate Lawrence Russell added 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
“We were a little amped up tonight,” Russell said. “After scrimmaging each other (for so long), going at it every day in practice, it was good for us to go against somebody new.”
And bad for Bethesda (3-4).
Master’s (3-1) made four straight threes early in the first half and built a 20-0 lead before eight minutes had passed. At the 12:24 mark, Javonte Wills’ free throw bounced high off the rim and fell through.
The crowd let out a collective, “Ah… .”
The point sucked no energy from the Mustangs, who led 57-21 at half and, eventually, by 50 on a Keegan Scott 3-pointer.
The night wasn’t all flash, though. Master’s did the dirty work, winning the battle in the paint 30-6 and outrebounding the Flames 53-29.
The Mustangs remain among the NAIA’s elite in rebounding differential through four games. That stat will be tested — at least figuratively — Friday when the Mustangs host the University of Antelope Valley. UAV upset the NAIA No. 5 Mustangs, 87-84, on Nov. 3.
“We’re going to be ready for that one, let’s say that,” said coach Kelvin Starr.
The Mustangs didn’t have to show much patience, getting another look at Antelope Valley less than a month after a loss that has ratcheted up the team’s energy level. Russell, on the other hand, showed patience on a first-half fast-break Tuesday.
He could have passed ahead to Johnson, but instead hesitated and bounced the ball back to Gardner, who flushed it.
Gardner, who has been the definition of a super sub, said afterward he doesn’t mind not starting. He hopes to provide a spark.
“As long as we get the ‘W,’ that’s awesome,” he said.
Gardner finished with eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Scott had 14 points, while Mike Taylor (12 points), Hansel Atencia (11 points) and Travis Yenor (10) also scored in double figures.
Maybe the most impressive numbers of the night: The Mustangs totaled 31 assists on 39 baskets. And they held Bethesda to 24 percent shooting for the game.
“All the categories you want to win in, we dominated,” Starr said. “I don’t care who you’re playing. If you’re doing that, the process is right.”
Here’s the box score.
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