Game Recap By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
SAN DIMAS — Brock Gardner laid the ball in through contact and flexed both biceps as he stood under the basket.
Hansel Atencia stole a pass, jetted downcourt and dropped it off for Tim Soares, who rose for a one-handed slam.
The Master’s University men’s basketball team stepped onto Mehl Court with a dangerous opponent and much on the line Thursday and enforced its will, taking down Life Pacific 98-74.
“We knew what we were playing for,” said Atencia, who scored a team-high 21 points. “We want to win the regular season title, and to do that we needed to win this game and the next two.”
With the win, Master’s (23-5, 12-4 in GSAC) remained in a first-place tie with Vanguard in Golden State Athletic Conference standings with two games left.
The teams will meet at TMU on Saturday night at 7:30, with the Mustangs looking to become the GSAC’s first repeat champion since Concordia won three consecutive titles from 2009-2012.
Gardner finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds Thursday, and Delewis Johnson added 17 points.
The Mustangs shot 58% from the floor, knocking down 10 three-pointers and outscoring the Warriors in the paint 42-24.
TMU coach Kelvin Starr said defending the three-point line would be the key to the night’s rematch.
The first time the teams met, the Warriors rained threes on the Mustangs, making (16) and attempting (42) more treys than any other TMU opponent.
Life Pacific’s 96 points were the most Master’s has surrendered this season.
This time, Master’s ran the Warriors off the three-point line from the beginning and took firm control after halftime, going on an 11-0 run that Gardner capped with his three-point play in transition.
The Warriors made 11-of-31 three-pointers, but several came when the game was no longer in question. TMU scored 16 points off 14 Warrior turnovers.
Atencia had three steals, and Darryl McDowell-White (12 points) and Michael Taylor each had two. Soares had 11 points in 15 minutes.
Here’s the box score.
This performance came on the heels of TMU’s impressive 97-81 win at Westmont College on Saturday. Vanguard lost to William Jessup that day, moving the Mustangs into a first-place tie and setting the stage for a thrilling final few games.
In three of the last four seasons, the GSAC champion has been decided by one game.