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Second-Half Troubles Continue For Mustangs

Pomona Pitzer outscored The Master’s College 10-2 over the last five minutes and the Mustangs’ second-half woes continued in a 55-50 loss at the hands of the Sagehens Saturday evening in Claremont.

After starting the season 3-1, the Mustangs have now lost three in a row and have fallen below .500 for the first time this season. Each of the three losses has come after the Mustangs surrendered halftime leads.

This was one was particularly tough to take, especially since the Mustangs led by three points (48-45) with 5:37 left. After Anthony Wells’ jumper gave the Mustangs that advantage, they didn’t score again until 40 seconds were left on the clock. By that time, the Sagehens had run off six consecutive points to take a lead they would not give up.

Joey Fuca’s jumper at the 40-second mark drew the Mustangs to within one (51-50) but Pitzer’s Evan Zahniser sealed the win with four free throws.

If the beginning was any indication, the Mustangs shouldn’t have even been around at the end. After taking a 7-6 lead on a Leif Karlberg three-pointer with 15:50 left in the first half, the Mustangs experienced the first of two decisive scoring droughts. Over the next five minutes, they didn’t dent the scoreboard while the Saghens surged to a 17-7 lead.

A Devin Dyer three-pointer ended the drought but the Mustangs still trailed 19-10 with just over 10 minutes remaining. That’s when Karlberg single-handedly brought the Mustangs back. Sandwiching a pair of regular jumpers around a three-pointer, the sophomore sharpshooter scored seven consecutive points to pull the Mustangs within 19-17 at the 6:35 mark.

The ‘Hens answered with a three-pointer of their own but the Mustangs weren’t about to stop as Wells, Fuca, and Anthony Cammon combined for five points to knot the game at 22-all with 3:22 left. Then, just over a minute later, Fuca converted a free throw to send the Mustangs ahead for the first time since the 15:50 mark.

But, the Sagehens weren’t done, either. They rattled off four straight points to reclaim the lead before Wells sunk a three-pointer to give the Mustangs a 28-26 halftime lead.

The Mustangs were fortunate to be on top, considering that they shot only 26% from the field. That lack of accuracy continued into the second half and eventually cost the Mustangs dearly.

The second half was of the nip-and-tuck variety as the clubs went back and forth until the final minute. Although there was only one tie and three lead changes during the last 20 minutes, no more than four points separated the clubs until the final 10 seconds.

The ‘Hens surged back in front 31-30 with 17:30 left to play and eventually led 40-36 at the 10:27 mark but the Mustangs battled back, outscoring the hosts 10-2 in a 2:45 window to go up 46-42. Fuca keyed the spurt with a three-pointer and Cammon dittoed that to cap the run.

But, that was when the ‘Hens, or more accurately, James Moss took over and the Mustangs’ shooting went in the tank. Moss tallied seven consecutive points in a 1:32 span to put Pitzer ahead for good. Although the Mustangs were by no means out of it, they never really recovered.

Incredibly, the Mustangs equaled their first-half futility (25.7%) from the field while the Saghens hit on 37% of their attempts.

Fuca and Wells paced the Mustangs with 11 points apiece while Karlberg added 10 more.

The Mustangs jump back into GSAC action on Tuesday evening when they travel to Fresno Pacific to take on the Sunbirds.

Game Stats

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