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January 24
1888 - Acton post office established; Richard E. Nickel, postmaster [story]
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Game Recap By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director

ATHERTON, CALIF. — For the second time this season, The Master’s University women’s basketball team fell behind by 10 to one of the conference’s perennial powers only to take control of the game with a fourth-quarter effort — this time with far more at stake.

The Mustangs trailed Vanguard by 10 with less than nine minutes to play in Friday’s Golden State Athletic Conference semifinal, and they rallied for a 64-56 win behind Sabrina Thompson‘s drives, Brooke Bailey‘s clutch threes, and a suffocating defense.

Rebekah Thron’s three-pointer with 59 seconds remaining was the backbreaker in a game played at Menlo College in Atherton, California.

The No. 5-ranked Mustangs (26-5) will face Westmont College in the GSAC championship Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Another win at Menlo would secure the fourth tournament title in program history and build on an already historic season.

Master’s claimed the first GSAC regular-season crown in program history earlier this month after an impressive stretch of play, one highlighted by a dramatic comeback at Vanguard in mid-January.

The Mustangs twice trailed by 10 that night but used a dominant fourth quarter, where they outscored the Lions 22-4, to pull off the comeback.

Friday’s situation was more dire.

No. 12 Vanguard (22-9) went on a 19-3 run in the third quarter to wash away what had been a 10-point deficit. The Lions led by four heading to the fourth quarter and soon led by 10.

But Thompson scored six of her 11 points in the final period, knifing to the basket and kissing the ball off the glass. Her layup with 7:15 remaining cut the deficit to five.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Soares blocked five shots in the fourth quarter as the Mustangs once again clamped down on defense, holding the Lions to four field goals and 10 points.

When Bailey stepped into a three with 5:08 to play, the Lions’ lead was sliced to one. Two minutes later, she stepped behind a screen and connected again from a distance to tie the score at 56-56 with 3:12 on the clock.

“She’s a gamer,” said coach Dan Waldeck.

By the one-minute mark, Master’s had forged a three-point lead at the free throw line, and Throns made sure the Mustangs would win for the 18th time in their last 19 games.

The sophomore forward caught a pass from Thompson well behind the three-point arc and knocked down the shot.

“I saw her feeling bold in her shot and not hesitating,” Thompson said. “I thought in the game we often hesitated in our shots instead of not thinking and just letting it fly. I saw that confidence in her eyes.”

Anika Neuman led Master’s with 15 points, while Jessica Soares added 11.

It was Soares’ aggressive, confident play in the second quarter that helped the Mustangs head into halftime with a 32-25 lead, a good sign for TMU.

Master’s has lost once this season when leading at the break and that was a non-conference loss to the University of Antelope Valley before the Christmas holiday. Even as they fell behind Friday, the Mustangs didn’t fall apart.

“In our huddles we kept saying, ‘This game isn’t over, we’re fine, we’re going to bounce back,'” Bailey said. “Coach said we needed to hang our hat on defense, and I think once we got that little spark we needed, we all locked in even more.”

Stephanie Soares finished with nine points, 15 rebounds and six blocks. Bailey added nine points.

Here’s the box score.

Now comes a third matchup with Westmont. The teams split two regular-season meetings, each winning at home.

“We thought tonight was physical,” Thompson said, “but tomorrow night will be just as, if not more, physical.”

The Mustangs are confident they will rise to the occasion.

As Bailey and Jessica Soares walked out into the darkness that enveloped Haynes-Prim Pavilion late Friday night, Bailey turned to her teammate with an assessment.

“I’m so proud of you,” she said. “That’s exactly what we needed.”

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