|A Win By An Inge|
Erica Inge scored on a layup with half a second remaining Saturday evening to beat Pt. Loma Nazarene 72-71 in a closely-fought GSAC tilt in San Diego.
The huge road win, the squad’s fourth without a loss in conference play, kept the Mustangs (12-3, 5-1) tied atop the GSAC with California Baptist, who defeated Vanguard. It was also the Mustangs’ sixth win in their last seven starts overall.
Inge, who has developed into one of the conference’s most clutch performers, affirmed her status when she took the ball to the basket just eight seconds after the Sea Lions had gone ahead on a Crissa Jackson layup. On an evening when the diminutive All-American tallied a season-low six points, she got plenty of support from her teammates.
It didn’t look that promising, however, as the Sea Lions erased a nine-point deficit with just over seven minutes remaining to surge ahead on Jackson’s bucket. It was the hosts’ first lead since the 13:04 mark of the second half when they went up 45-44. But, the Mustangs responded with a Zoe Scott three-pointer to reclaim the lead, one they would hold until the final seconds.
The Sea Lions knotted the game at 47 with 12:18 left but Scott’s three-point play 20 seconds later triggered a 13-4 burst that gave the Mustangs a seemingly comfortable 60-51 edge almost five minutes later. But, in a second half that featured 13 lead changes and four ties, this one was far from over.
As quickly as the Mustangs surged, the Sea Lions responded, ripping off a 9-2 spurt in a 1:26 span to pull within 62-60 on another Jackson layup. She wasn’t done either as she tied the game at 66 on a three-pointer with 3:04 showing on the clock. TMC’s Lena Rivera unknotted the contest 35 seconds later on a jumper and Scott upped the margin to 70-66 with a jumper at the 1:49 mark. But, Jackson, who scored her team’s final eight points, drained another trifecta and then hit the layup that set up Inge’s heroics.
The see-saw, second-half battle was unlike the opening 20 minutes when the Mustangs trailed only three times and built a margin as large as seven points. Down 4-2 in the game’s opening minutes, the Mustangs used an Ella Joines’ three-pointer to spark a 7-0 run. Inge contributed to the spurt with a layup and Morgan Schwegler capped it off with two charity tosses.
Joines drained another three-pointer with 14:24 left in the half and when Rivera scored on a layup 40 seconds later, the Mustangs had that seven-point (15-8) advantage. But, the Mustangs didn’t have time to enjoy their lead as the Sea Lions answered back with six straight points to pull within one and TMC didn’t lead by more than five points again until well into the second half.
Joines’ third trey of the half put the Mustangs up 22-18 and Theresa Brown’s layup with 2:24 left made it a five-point (24-19) game but the Sea Lions tallied the final six points of the half to take the slightest of margins to intermission.
Both squads shot miserably in the first half, the Mustangs connecting on 33% of their attempts while the Sea Lions were at 25%, including an 0-10 showing from behind the arc. Joines’ nine points, all of those coming on her three trifectas, led all scorers.
The Sea Lions used the three-ball to their advantage in the early moments of the second half when Kiley Berlinski and Callie Rhoads connected from behind the arc to send the hosts in front 31-26. But, the Mustangs duplicated that result when Scott, who had a sensational second half with 17 points, buried consecutive treys to push the Mustangs back in front by one point (32-31), setting up the back-and-forth pattern that would characterize the next five minutes.
Scott, who tied Jackson for game-high scoring honors with a career-best 19 points, paced four Mustangs in double figures. Joines tallied 15 points, Rivera had 11, and Brown recorded her third double-double of the season with 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
In stark contrast to the first half, both squads shot well over 50% over the final 20 minutes. The Mustangs hit on 57% (47.5% for the game) of their shots while the Sea Lions connected at a 56% clip.
The Mustangs are back in action Tuesday evening when they host No. 21 Westmont (2-4 in the GSAC) at 5:30pm in Bross Gym.