Last week, The Master’s University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams each tallied a pair of impressive victories, extending each of their hot starts to the 2016-17 winter season.
Last Tuesday, Delewis Johnson led TMU with 22 points in the Mustangs’ 86-79 victory over Life Pacific College in San Dimas.
Johnson went 6-for-10 from the field, in addition to his nine free throws, and pulled down eight rebounds.
Lawrence Russell joined Johnson in scoring in double figures by posting 14 points, while teammates Evan Jenkins and Matthew McClain tossed in a dozen each.
McClain yanked down a game-high nine boards, leading the Mustangs to a 39-33 advantage on the glass.
Three days later, TMU’s Travis Yenor hit the go-ahead basket with 28 seconds remaining and added a free throw to rally the Mustangs past upset-minded Cal Maritime 66-63 in a game played at College of the Canyons.
Yenor followed his only hoop of the evening with a free throw 10 seconds later to cap an 11-2 run over the final 3:30 that kept the Mustangs undefeated at 7-0.
It was a different kind of game and final score for a squad that had been averaging over 100 points and beating its opponents by nearly 20 points per contest over the first half-dozen outings of the new campaign.
Yet it may have been just the right kind of test for the Mustangs, who open Golden State Athletic Conference play on Wednesday against NAIA No. 12 Westmont.
First-year TMU coach Kelvin Starr praised his team and Cal Maritime after the game, saying, “Our guys showed a lot of resolve to pull out a win against a tough, gritty, well-coached team.”
After struggling from the field in the first half, the Mustangs improved to 52 percent in the second stanza and finished the evening at 46 percent. Meanwhile, they limited Cal Maritime to 35-percent accuracy in the second half and 36 percent for the game. The Keelhaulers went just 1-of-9 over the final 3:38.
Russell and McClain were quite the one-two punch for the Mustangs as they combined for 38 points and 25 rebounds. Russell led all scorers with 21 points and notched his third double-double of the season with 11 rebounds. McClain ripped down a season-high 14 rebounds and his 17 points gave him his second double-double of the year.
After passing their closest test of the season to date, the Mustangs now get ready to host perennial power Westmont on Bross Court. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, TMU will continue its GSAC schedule by taking on Arizona Christian in Phoenix at 3 p.m.
Last Wednesday, TMU beat La Sierra University, 87-52, in Riverside.
Attesting to the TMU’s excellence, four Mustangs finished the evening by scoring in double figures. Ashley Bartow paced TMU’s efforts by scoring 20 points and yanking down 12 rebounds, while Bianca Cubello tallied 17 points and grabbed 10 boards. Jamilee Iddings posted 12 points, while Megan Lindsley scored 10 more. Cubello led TMU with four assists.
Collectively, TMU went 31-of-81 (38 percent) from the field, 8-of-31 (25 percent) on 3-pointers, and 17-of-21 (80 percent) on free throws.
Then, on Friday, TMU continued its strong start to the 2016-17 season after beating Northern New Mexico University 82-37 at COC.
Friday’s win improved No. 14 TMU to 6-1 on the year.
“I’m really enjoying the progress we are making,” said Mustangs coach Dan Waldeck. “We have an amazing group of workers and teachable spirits, and I thought that showed tonight. We did a good job of getting on the glass, finding the open players, and playing with more identity. I definitely like the balance and teamwork.”
TMU never once allowed the Eagles to take a lead or tie the game throughout the entirety of Friday’s non-conference tilt. Notably, all of Waldeck’s available Mustangs received valuable playing time.
Four Mustangs scored in double-digits: Bartow (15), Lindsley (14), Cubello (13), and Iddings (10).
After grabbing an evening-high 10 rebounds against the Eagles, Cubello earned her fourth double-double of the season.
Looking ahead, on Wednesday, the Mustangs will return to action when they host No. 2 Westmont College on Bross Court at 5:30 p.m.
Results place Mustangs as NAIA’s sixth best
As the 2016 fall sports season is nearing an end, the Learfield Directors’ Cup, the list of the nation’s best NAIA athletic programs, has reported that The Master’s University ranks sixth in the cup standings.
The Mustangs accumulated 142.50 points on the strength of placing fifth in men’s cross country (75 points), and 10th in women’s cross country (67.50 points). At the conclusion of the 2015-16 athletic calendar, TMU placed 24th overall in the NAIA.
Notably, TMU is currently the highest-ranked team in the GSAC, as Biola ranks eighth and Westmont ranks 15th, supporting the notion that the GSAC is among the premier conferences in the NAIA.
The Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and the USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution’s finish in up to 12 sports — six women’s and six men’s.
The vision of Mustang Athletics is to support the mission of The Master’s University by investing in a tradition of quality athletics while guiding students to be stewards of the opportunity to excel academically and spiritually as a follower of Christ.
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