Taking advantage of a year-long trouble spot, Biola outscored The Master’s College 32-12 in the paint Tuesday evening en route to a hard-fought 56-47 GSAC victory in La Mirada.
The loss was the Mustangs’ tenth in their past 11 outings (9-16 overall, 2-13 GSAC) while the 18th-ranked Eagles improved to 10-4 in the conference and 20-4 overall.
The Eagles started early, rolling to a 7-1 lead, but they were nearly matched by the Mustangs who tore off eight of the next 11 points to pull within one. Leif Karlberg sparked the run with a three-pointer and then Anthony Cammon finished things off with a jumper and a trifecta.
Stretching the lead out to 17-11, the Eagles appeared ready to take off and leave the Mustangs behind, but the visitors stayed close, pulling within 18-17 on a Karlberg triple at the 5:02 mark. The Mustangs weren’t done either as they tied the game at 22 when Brandon Bibbins poured in a jumper 2½ minutes later and then took their only lead of the game at 25-24 when Bibbins scored another basket, one that took them to intermission ahead.
The Mustangs shot just 33% from the field over the first 20 minutes but six buckets (6-13) from behind the arc spread out over five players helped immensely.
Wasting little time in the opening minutes of the second half, the Eagles reeled off the first six points of the second half, going up 30-25 with 17 minutes remaining. Five and a half minutes later, they pushed the advantage to 37-28 but the Mustangs refused to wilt.
With Cammon, Karlberg, and Anthony Wells recording baskets in a 2½-minute stretch, the Mustangs pulled to within 37-34 at the 9:05 mark. Just over two minutes later, a Ronnie Dodd trey made it a two-point game (41-39) and the Mustangs were primed for an upset.
However, the Eagles responded like one of the nation’s best teams, tallying six straight points to create some separation (47-39) that lasted. Making one last push, the Mustangs closed to 49-45 on a Karlberg three-pointer at the 3:18 mark but the Eagles put the game away with six consecutive points.
The Eagles, who shot 40% from the field in the first half, improved to 52% in the final period while limiting the Mustangs to 33% shooting once again.
Karlberg sank four three-pointers on the way to a team-high 16 points while Cammon was the only other Mustang in double figures, tallying 12 points.
After three days off, the Mustangs return to GSAC play Saturday evening when they host Pt. Loma Nazarene. Tip-off is set for 7:30pm.