The first four minutes were a struggle for The Master’s University women’s basketball team Friday.
These were the, um, highlights: Lewis-Clark State of Idaho layup. TMU turnover. LC State second-chance two-point jump shot. An off-target 3-pointer for the Mustangs. A swish from behind the arc for the Warriors.
LC State led by 12 before TMU could catch its breath, and the Mustangs never stabilized in a 78-59 home loss to open the annual Jersey Mike’s Thanksgiving Classic.
“We never recovered from the initial punch in the gut,” said Mustangs coach Dan Waldeck.
The young, mostly inexperienced Mustangs (3-1) were left chasing a veteran Warrior squad the rest of the way. Against an aggressive two-three zone that forced TMU to work for every point, the odds of a comeback never looked good.
LC State, ranked No. 7 in the NAIA, used an 8-0 run to pull ahead 41-19 at the five-minute mark in the second quarter and led 46-25 at half.
The Warriors scored 19 points off 11 Mustang turnovers before the break.
Throughout the game, LC State’s speedy guards penetrated TMU’s defense for easy shots and kick-out passes, often finding open and ready marksmen.
The Warriors made 8-of-19 3-pointers, six makes coming in the first half when the No. 14 Mustangs too often looked lost.
The outing did not come as a total surprise to Waldeck, who said earlier this week the Mustangs, coming off four straight NAIA national tournament appearances, still needed time to jell.
“(The Warriors) have eight kids that played against us two years ago on their team. We have two (from that game),” he said Friday. “They have had those kids play together that long, and we’ve played together for a month and a half.
“… We’re going to look totally different in three months than we do right now.”
The Mustangs, who had five freshmen and a sophomore get into the game, looked tentative and uncomfortable, trailing by as many as 30 late in the third quarter.
LC State had five players score in double figures, with 2015 All-American Brittany Tackett leading the way with 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the field.
Freshman Hannah Forrar led TMU with 12 points. No other Mustang scored in double figures. Megan Lindsley scored nine points, with Ashley Bartow and Bianca Cubello following with eight apiece.
TMU shot 37 percent from the field.
“We have to shoot the ball better,” Waldeck said.
The Mustangs will play University of the Southwest (New Mexico) today at 2 p.m. in the second game of the classic.