With her team down by three points and 1.3 seconds left on the clock, Ashley Bartow lofted a high arcing 3-pointer she thought would send The Master’s University’s game against Westmont College into overtime Wednesday night at TMU. As the ball approached the basket, Bartow raised her fists in triumph — until the ball fell inches short of the rim and time expired, and the Mustangs lost 50-47. “Honestly that felt really good,” Bartow said. “It was just short.” Coach Dan Waldeck felt good about how NAIA No. 14 TMU (6-2 overall, 0-1 in GSAC) played in its Golden State Athletic Conference opener versus No. 4 Westmont (7-1, 1-0), despite losing a six point halftime lead. “Really everything is even across the board except for free throws,” Waldeck said. “They made 11, we made eight.” TMU controlled the game in the first half, picking apart Westmont’s zone defense in the first quarter and opening up a 14-5 lead when the quarter ended. Early in the second quarter, the Warriors started pressing near midcourt to force turnovers. While it initially worked, the Warriors could not make shots to narrow the lead.
The Mustangs went into the half with a six point lead, but Waldeck felt the lead wasn’t safe. He proved to be right as Westmont opened the second half on a 13-4 run. “They’ve got championship mettle,” Waldeck said. “It’s your job to withstand it and answer back, and I thought we did.” The game continued to be back and forth the rest of the way, with Westmont holding a lead for most of the half. Bartow, a senior, said her final shot attempt came after a rub play where she was supposed to inbound the ball and give it to her teammate Megan Lindsley but Westmont’s Aimee Brakken guarded Lindsley well. Waldeck liked the shot. “It was right on line, it was just short,” Waldeck said. “The one thing you worry about with a young team is freezing and not doing anything. The progress of getting a decent look against a great defensive team is all you can hope for.” Senior forward Bianca Cubello led TMU with 15 points. Bartow followed with 13. Cubello also led TMU with six rebounds. Bartow had five rebounds, which was second most among TMU players. Westmont’s Kayla Sato led all scorers with 19 points.