|How Sweet It Is!|
In a year when perennial power Pt. Loma Nazarene is struggling, The Master’s College has had very little sympathy and it showed Saturday evening in Bross Gym when the Mustangs led almost wire-to-wire in a 77-58 romp.
The Mustangs, who had beaten the Sea Lions only three times in their last 13 tries, one of those a 72-71 thriller back on January 11 in San Diego, snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 16-9 overall and 9-7 in the GSAC. With four conference games remaining, the Mustangs are tied with Concordia for seventh place but are only one game out of fourth.
Consecutive three-balls from Ella Joines vaulted the Mustangs to an early 6-2 lead. The Sea Lions used a similar streak to tie the game at eight with 17:24 remaining in the first half before the Mustangs took off for good.
Lena Rivera’s jumper with 16:53 left sparked a 7-0 burst that gave the Mustangs a lead it would never relinquish. Junior post Theresa Brown followed with a pair of free throws and Brook Bekendam’s three-pointer at the 15:11 mark gave the Mustangs a 15-8 advantage.
The Sea Lions closed to 17-12 on a Kiley Berlinski jumper with 13:51 left but that was as close as they would get the rest of the evening. With Rivera burying a trifecta, the Mustangs raced away on a 14-2 run in a 5½-minute span. A Lauren Labat trey highlighted the burst and Brown’s jumper at the 7:22 mark capped it off for a 31-14 lead.
Shooting the ball at a 55% clip and playing relentless defense, the Mustangs continued to pull away, taking a 41-20 lead on an Erica Inge layup with 2:50 remaining. They went to the break with a 43-22 lead, holding the Sea Lions to 37% accuracy from the field. Five Mustangs had at least six points in the first half, led by Brown’s eight.
The advantage hovered around the 20-point mark through the opening minutes of the first half and when Joines sank another triple with 14:31 left to play, the Mustangs’ lead ballooned to 55-29. Just under three minutes later, the advantage reached a game-high 28 points (63-35) when Brown converted a layup at the 11:50 mark.
From then on it was just a matter of staying focused and playing hard at both ends of the court which the Mustangs did. Even when the Sea Lions reeled off six straight points to close to 68-51 at the 4:17 mark, the Mustangs responded with a 6-2 burst, capped by a Lindsey Levanen jumper.
Brown, who led a 30-18 points in the paint assault, tallied a game-high 16 points and grabbed six rebounds. She was joined in double figures by Rivera and Inge, who tallied 12 points apiece, and Joines who had 11, nine of those coming on a 3-5 performance from behind the arc. Rivera led all rebounders with eigh boards.
Shooting 56% from the field in the second half, the Mustangs wound up at 55% for the game.
Just one game out of a fourth-place spot that would give them a first-round home game in the upcoming GSAC Tournament, the Mustangs continue their pursuit of that finish Tuesday evening in Santa Barbara where they’ll face a Westmont team that holds down that spot and one that beat them 77-64 back on January 11.