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The Master’s University men’s basketball team won all of four games last season.

Tuesday night in Fullerton, the Mustangs completed a three-game run in the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament, knocking off Hope International University, 79-74, in double overtime to clinch the first GSAC tourney title in program history.

The win also earned TMU the conference’s automatic bid to the NAIA national tournament. It will be the Mustangs’ first appearance since 2000.

It didn’t come easy.

TMU (26-4), under first-year coach Kelvin Starr, outscored Hope 11-6 in the second overtime to finally end a marathon game that started at 8 p.m.

Mustang Reid Shackelford finished with a game-high 24 points, while Lawrence Russell followed with 21 for TMU, which held a three point lead late in the first overtime before Devin Greene hit a trey to pull Hope (25-7) even with 20 seconds to play.

Greene finished with 13 points.

TMU’s 6-foot-10 freshman center Timothy Soares recorded 10 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.

Mustangs point guard Hansel Atencia added 12 points, including a midrange jumper with 1:38 remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the score 60-60.

Soares then blocked a Hope shot with 13 seconds remaining to give TMU one final possession.

A broadcaster on the Fox Sports West telecast called it “the biggest defensive stand in the program’s history.”

But Shackelford’s 3-pointer with five seconds left in regulation was off the mark and the game went to overtime.

The NAIA Division 1 tournament starts next week.

GSAC Women’s Championship

The Master’s University women’s basketball team lost 61-52 to Westmont College of Santa Barbara in the GSAC tournament final on Tuesday night in Fullerton.

Ashley Bartow scored 19 points to lead the Mustangs (22-8), who came within four points of Westmont with 33 seconds left but couldn’t close the gap.

Four Westmont players scored in double figures in the game, played on the campus of Hope International University.

After Westmont ran out to an 18-8 lead after one quarter, TMU stayed within striking distance behind strong three-point shooting (7-of-15). Hannah Ostrom and Bartow each made 3-of-5 from behind the arc.

Ostrom finished with nine points and six rebounds, while teammate Bianca Cubello added 14 points and seven rebounds.

This was TMU’s third loss to Westmont this season. The first two meetings were decided by a total of six points.

TMU finished 10-6 in GSAC play during the regular season, good for fourth place, and is currently ranked 19th in the NAIA.

The Mustangs are hoping for a fifth straight berth in the NAIA Division 1 national tournament, which begins next week.

The tournament’s 32-team field will be announced today.

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Mason Nesbitt
Mason Nesbitt is The Santa Clarita Valley Signal's Sports Editor.
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