After trailing by 15 at the half, The Master’s men’s basketball team fought back to tie it, but that was as close as they got as the Lights of Montana State-Northern defeated the Mustangs 80-71 in the final game of the Cactus Classic in Chandler, Ariz. Tuesday.
TMU (10-4) was held to 40% (24-of-60) shooting from the field and 7-of-23 (30%) from 3-point range. By contrast, the Lights were 25-of 50 from the field and 10-of-22 (46%) from long range.
After a Deondre Earley jumper gave the Mustangs a 10-9 lead with 14:04 to play in the first, MSN went on a 16-0 run in less than four minutes to go up by 15. That difference of 15 was the difference at halftime, 47-32.
“Just can’t come out and lay an egg on the scout in the first half,” said head coach Kelvin Starr. “It’s happened two games in a row. (Today) we dug too deep a hole.”
Despite that hole, aleb Lowery drove the lane with 11:30 to play in the game, soared over his opponent and slammed home a thundering dunk, getting fouled in the process.
That woke up the team.
Less than two minutes later, Earley got a steal that led to Jordan Starr hitting a three, his first points of the game, tying the game at 58-58.
After MSN hit a three, there were two questionable calls with a little more than five minutes to play that led to a six-point swing in favor of the Lights. Caden Starr looked like he had taken a charge, but the officials called a block against him. Then on the ensuing possession, Jordan Caruso was called for a charge that gave the ball right back to MSN, which then rode the momentum wave on an 11-3 run over the next three minutes to put the game away.
“I did like the fight we showed to tie it up,” Starr said. “But when you exert that much energy, your execution and shot making down the stretch goes south.”
Caruso led the team with 21 points followed by Lowery’s 17 and a team-high seven rebounds. Christian Sweazie hit four 3’s to finish with 12 points.
The Master’s will be off for the Christmas break before heading back to The MacArthur Center on Friday, Dec. 30, to host Lincoln University at 5 p.m.