TMU Insider: Men’s, women’s hoops advance to GSAC finals

The Master's University women's basketball players celebrate a win over Vanguard University in the semifinals of the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament at TMU last week. Photo courtesy of TMU Athletics

Last week, The Master’s University men’s and women’s basketball teams advanced to Tuesday’s Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament Championships and the baseball team swept St. Katherine College of San Marcos.

Men’s and women’s basketball

On Tuesday, TMU’s men’s and women’s basketball
teams will compete in the 2017 GSAC Basketball Tournament Championships on the campus of Hope International University in Fullerton.

Mustang fans are encouraged to fill up the gym for both games, which will also be televised live on Fox Sports West in the Los Angeles area. The game will also be shown nationally on Fox College Sports.

The women are making their third appearance in the last four years in the tournament championship game, while this is the first-ever appearance for the men since joining the GSAC in 2001.

The women play Westmont College of Santa Barbara at 5 p.m.

The men play Hope at 8 p.m.

Hope is located at 2500 E. Nutwood Avenue, Fullerton, CA 92831. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students/seniors, and $15 for a premium chairback seating. Admission is valid for both games.

Game Preview:

Women: TMU women’s basketball (22-7 overall record, 10-6 GSAC, No. 4 tournament seed, ranked 19th in the NAIA), advanced to the GSAC Tournament Championship game after it beat Arizona Christian 85-73 in the tournament’s quarterfinal game on March 3, and Vanguard (the No. 1 tournament seed, ranked fourth in NAIA), 69-67, in the semifinals on March 4. Both games took place on TMU’s Bross Court.
Now, the Mustangs turn their attention to Westmont, the NAIA’s seventh-ranked team.
“Westmont is playing fantastic,” said TMU coach Dan Waldeck. “It’s going to be a tall task to beat them on Tuesday, but we’ll prepare as best we can and be ready to compete hard.”

The Warriors (26-4 overall record, 13-3 GSAC, No. 3 tournament seed, ranked 7th in NAIA) have beaten TMU twice this last season. On December 7, the Mustangs fell to the Warriors, 50-47, on Bross Court. Then, on January 19, TMU fell to Westmont 61-58 in overtime in Santa Barbara.

The Mustangs are led by Bianca Cubello and Megan Lindsley. Last week, the duo was named to the 2016-17 Women’s Basketball All-GSAC Team.

The selections mark the third year in a row that the inside-outside tandem has earned all-conference honors.

Cubello finished the regular-season slate posting team-highs of 13 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game, while leading the conference in free throw percentage (82.7 percent) and blocked shots (62). Playing all 27 games, the Riverside native scored in double figures 21 times and notched eight double-doubles.

Lindsley averaged 9.5 points per game and was second on the team with 35 3-pointers. She tallied in double figures 14 times, scoring a season-high 21 points at Arizona Christian on December 10.

In the 2003 GSAC Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship Game, TMU beat Vanguard 76-66. Three years later (2006), the Mustangs beat Point Loma Nazarene 61-49 in the tournament title game.
Eight years later (2014), TMU suffered a 64-59 loss to Hope International University in the GSAC Tournament Championship, but beat Vanguard a year later (2016) 60-54.

Men: The Master’s University men’s basketball team (25-4 overall record, 12-4 GSAC, No. 3 tournament seed, ranked 14th in the NAIA) advanced to the GSAC Tournament Championship game after it beat Arizona Christian 76-61 in the tournament’s quarterfinal game on March 3, and Biola (No. 2 tournament seed, ranked seventh in the NAIA) 83-68 in the semifinals on March 4.

Both games took place on the campus of Westmont College in Santa Barbara.

This season, the Mustangs fell twice to Hope International, the regular-season GSAC champion (25-6 overall record, 13-3 GSAC, No. 1 tournament seed, ranked fifth in the NAIA).

On January 7, the Mustangs fell to the Royals 88-56 on Bross Court. Then, on February 9, the team lost to HIU 82-72 in Fullerton.

The Mustangs are led by Reid Shackelford and Lawrence Russell. Last week, the duo was named to the 2016-17 Men’s Basketball All-GSAC Team.

Russell, who was also named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, may have been the club’s top all-around performer, putting up strong lines on a consistent basis.

The junior transfer paced the club in rebounding (7.8 per game, second in the GSAC), assists (four, third in the GSAC), and steals (1.9, second in the GSAC).

Russell scored a season-high 24 points vs. Vanguard on February 25 and pulled down a season-best 12 rebounds on three occasions while recording a team-best 10 double-doubles.

Shackelford led the Mustangs in scoring and finished second in the GSAC at 16.9 points per game. The sharpshooting senior guard drained a school-record 10 three-pointers vs. Embry-Riddle of Arizona on November 11 en route to a career-high 51 points.

His 85 three-pointers were second-best in the conference and represented the seventh-best single-season mark in program history.

Commenting on Tuesday’s matchup, first-year head coach Kelvin Starr said, “We are very excited to play the No. 1-ranked team in the GSAC. It should be a great atmosphere Tuesday night.”


Aaron Alexander pitched eight shutout innings in the opener and Michael Sexton drove in a total of five runs to pace the Mustangs to a doubleheader sweep of St. Katherine on Saturday afternoon at TMU’s Lou Herwaldt Stadium.

Saturday’s 6-0 and 9-4 victories complemented Friday’s 11-1 shellacking of the Firebirds and lifted the Mustangs above the .500 mark (13-11) for the first time in three weeks.

Alexander, once again, was spectacular in Saturday’s opener.

He cruised to his staff-high fifth win (5-1) of the season, blanking the Firebirds on six hits while striking out seven in his eight-inning stint. Alexander now boasts a staff-best 1.71 ERA. Based on his outstanding performance, Alexander also earned the GSAC’s Pitcher of the Week for the second consecutive week.

Winners of seven of their past eight, the 11th-ranked Mustangs now prepare for their toughest series of the season next weekend when they travel to Santa Barbara to take on NAIA No. 8 Westmont in a single game Friday and a doubleheader on Saturday.

For more information about The Master’s University Athletics, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @TMUAthletics.

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