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Snapping the Skid

Joey Fuca poured in a career-high 31 points and Devin Dyer tossed in 20 more as The Master’s College snapped a five-game losing skid with a 96-83 win over Holy Names Tuesday evening in Bross Gym.

Winning for the first time in three weeks, the Mustangs improved to 4-6.

Both clubs shot the ball well in a very entertaining first half that was nip-and-tuck through the first 10 minutes before Fuca took over. Four ties and as many lead changes characterized that window of time and neither squad led by more than three points until Fuca’s three-pointer at the 13:20 mark gave the Mustangs a 16-11 lead. That was just the start for the senior guard.

From that point until intermission, Fuca lit it up with 18 of his 20 first-half points. Nearly three minutes later he tallied eight consecutive points on a layup, a three-point play, and a trifecta as the Mustangs extended their lead to 26-18. Then Dyer tallied four straight points of his own to finish off a 12-3 run for the Mustangs’ largest lead of the half, 30-18.

The dazed Hawks cut the lead to eight points with a quick, four-point burst but a Fuca layup stretched the advantage back to double figures where it stayed until Antoine McKinzie’s layup with 2:31 remaining sliced the deficit (38-30) once again.

The Hawks got as close as 42-35 on a Johnas Street trey with 48 seconds remaining but Fuca closed the half with a flurry, scoring on a layup with 26 seconds left and then drilling his third trifecta of the half at the buzzer to give the Mustangs a 47-35 cushion.

Although Holy Names outshot the Mustangs 57%-54%, the primary damage was done off turnovers where the Mustangs converted 11 of those into 16 points. Fuca had 20 at the break.

The halftime break did little to cool off Fuca as he opened the second half with another three-ball to push the advantage to 15 points. The Mustangs kept the pressure up over the next six minutes, building the lead to as many as 20 points.

A Karlberg three-point play with 16 minutes remaining pushed the advantage to 63-45 and Paul Brown’s layup a minute later made it a 20-point (67-47) game. The Hawks took two points off the deficit with a pair of free throws but when Dyer drained a jumper at the 14:22 mark to restore the 20-point margin, it appeared the game was well in hand.

It wasn't. Down 69-50, the Hawks came alive from all over, hitting mid-range and long-range shots as well as free throws that contributed to a 16-4 run, slicing the deficit to 73-66 with 9:45 left to play. But Dyer restored order with a pair of driving layups and the visitors got no closer than eight points the rest of the way.

Down the stretch Dyer combined with Fuca and Karlberg to score 20 of the squad’s final 22 points. Karlberg sandwiched five points around a Fuca jumper to keep some distance at 84-72. When the Hawks made one last run, Fuca and Ronnie Dodd responded with baskets and then the backcourt threesome put the game away at the line, converting six of eight from there in the final 23 seconds.

Fuca did his damage with 10-12 shooting from the field, including 4-5 from behind the arc, and 7-10 from the line. Dyer was 8-11 from the field en route to his career-high while Karlberg chipped in with 16 more points. Dodd turned in another fine performance off the bench, tallying eight points and grabbing a game-tying-high seven rebounds.

Next up for the Mustangs is a trip to Redding for this weekend’s NCCAA West Regional Classic at Simpson University. On Friday, the Mustangs have a chance for some revenge against Southwestern of Arizona (lost 81-65 on November 27 in Phoenix) and then play the hosts Saturday evening.

Game Stats

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