Game Recap By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
Brock Gardner caught the ball outside the three-point arc, his back to the basket. The 6-foot-7 forward spun, drove into the paint and flushed a vicious right-handed dunk to extend The Master’s University’s lead to 39 early in Saturday’s second period.
Apparently, halftime did little by way of cooling the Mustangs off.
Master’s scored 70 points over the game’s first 20 minutes and rolled past the University of Saskatchewan, 113-81, on day two of the Jersey Mike’s Holiday Classic. It was TMU’s 26th straight home win.
The Mustangs improved to 11-2 on the year after recording their highest-scoring half of the season and coming back out to knock down their first six shots of the second period. Master’s dished out a season-high 28 assists and reached triple digits on the scoreboard with roughly eight minutes to play.
Gardner scored 24 points with 10 rebounds and four assists, and Delewis Johnson added 22 points for the Mustangs.
Hansel Atencia followed with 18 points and five assists, and Tim Soares contributed 17 points and 10 rebounds. Darryl McDowell-White rounded out Mustangs in double figures with 14 points.
“The guys did a good job of doing what they do,” said coach Kelvin Starr.
By halftime, the Mustangs had recorded a game’s worth of stats.
TMU hit 11 three-pointers. It racked up 19 assists on 24 shots, Jordan Starr leading the way with seven helpers. And Gardner, for his part, matched a season-high with four three-pointers. The junior looked as comfortable as he had all year, lofting high-arcing triples that swished.
At the morning’s shootaround, Kelvin Starr said his focus for the afternoon was defense. The matchup with Saskatchewan would be a good trial run, he said, because the Huskies (7-7) play a downhill style of offense similar to William Jessup University, which will be at TMU on Jan. 3 at 7:30 p.m. for a Golden State Athletic Conference showdown.
The Mustangs weren’t as stifling Saturday as they had been Friday on that end of the floor, having held the University of Antelope Valley to 27% shooting in the first half. But Master’s more than made up for it with a free-flowing offense.
The Mustangs attacked the paint and moved the ball, creating a bevy of open three-point looks.
Master’s made 11-of-28 treys in the first half on its way to shooting 36% on 36 attempts from distance.
Master’s didn’t click right away.
“We started slow in the first five minutes,” Johnson said. “But we settled in and played team defense.”
The Mustangs trailed by five after 4 1/2 minutes but closed the half on a 54-19 run.
Gardner was a big part of it. He scored 18 points in the first half and made 8-of-12 shots in the game, 4-of-8 from beyond the arc.
Johnson credited Gardner with impacting TMU’s mojo.
“He brings the energy,” Johnson said. “Brock is an upbeat person. When he’s going, the team is going.”
And where the team is going is into another matchup almost immediately. The Mustangs will host the University of Calgary on Monday at 1 p.m. at TMU.
Coach Starr said the matchup will help prepare the Mustangs for GSAC play. “Calgary is really good,” he said.
Here’s the box score.