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Westmont survived 26 turnovers and a second-half rally by The Master’s College Tuesday evening, beating the Mustangs 77-64 in a key GSAC match-up in Bross Gym. The Mustangs suffered just their second conference loss of the season, both of those coming at home.
The defeat dropped the 23rd-ranked Mustangs (12-4, 5-2 GSAC) out of a first-place tie with California Baptist and into a three-way logjam for second in the conference.
The Warriors, who were just 2-4 coming in, played like a first-place team from the start, surging to an 8-0 lead in the first 2:12 of play. They led by no less than five points through the opening 20 minutes and built a 13-point (37-24) cushion at halftime.
In between the fast start by the Warriors and the break, the Mustangs couldn’t take advantage of 17 Westmont turnovers, scoring just 10 points off miscues. Meanwhile, the Warriors made up for their mistakes with 58% shooting from the field. The Mustangs pulled to within five points on five occasions, the last coming at 22-17 on a Lindsey Levanen with 5:24 left in the half.
But, the Warriors ripped off an 8-2 run to open up a 30-19 lead and then closed the half with a 7-2 spurt for a comfortable halftime advantage. The Mustangs, who shot just 38% from the field in the first period, were led by Erica Inge and Theresa Brown with six points apiece.
Coming out of the break, the Warriors extended the margin to 15 points on an Erin Beadle jumper but the Mustangs reeled off 10 straight points to make it a game. Inge was the instigator with a pair of layups and Lena Rivera’s layup with 15:21 remaining sliced the deficit to 39-34.
Westmont tallied a basket to stop the bleeding, temporarily, but the Mustangs kept coming, scoring 12 of the game’s next 14 points to take their first lead (44-43) on a Zoe Scott three-pointer with 10:36 left to play. A Brown jumper 42 seconds later made it a three-point game and it appeared that the Mustangs were about to pull away for good.
But, this appearance was deceiving as the Warriors hung on and then scored nine straight points to go ahead 52-46. Back came the Mustangs, though, as consecutive trifectas from Ella Joines and Scott knotted the game at 52 with 6:12 remaining.
However, that little spurt proved to be the Mustangs’ last hurrah as Westmont countered with a basket 25 seconds later that was the genesis of a decisive 13-4 run in a three-minute window. The Mustangs never got closer than seven points the rest of the way and the Warriors closed things out with a 10-3 burst.
Inge and Joines, who almost led the Mustangs all the way back, combined for 35 points. Inge tallied 15 points in the second half en route to a team-high 21 points while Joines drilled four three-pointers on the way to 14 points. The Mustangs shot 53% from the field in the second half and finished at 46% for the game.
TMC head coach Dan Waldeck, clearly frustrated with the outcome, nevertheless said, “Our effort was outstanding but lacked the focus necessary to beat a fine team like Westmont. I’m disappointed with the lack of overall contributions from our team but we will take great lessons from this loss and be better our next time out. We have a team of wonderful young players and they will respond because of character and a commitment to excellence.”
Now a game out of first place, the Mustangs can do something about that immediately when they travel to Riverside on Saturday to face front-running and sixth-ranked California Baptist in a midseason showdown.