The Master’s University women’s basketball team played with such an even-keeled cool late Wednesday night that after their 85-83 win over Our Lady of the Lake (Texas), TMU players didn’t even remember trailing by 10 in the third quarter of their NAIA national tournament first-round game in Billings, Montana.
“I don’t think our kids even knew we were down,” said coach Dan Waldeck, whose team slipped out of the Saints’ stranglehold late in the third and built their own 12-point lead by the three minute mark in the fourth quarter.
But Our Lady of the Lake closed the game on a 13-3 run, with the only Mustang basket coming from Bianca Cubello, who also made a free throw with seven seconds left to push the score to 85-81.
The Saints (24-9) hit a two-point bucket with two seconds left, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Cubello’s stellar performance.
The senior forward finished with 28 points and 19 rebounds, both career highs.
“She was awesome,” Waldeck said of Cubello, who shot 11-of-16 from the floor. “Honestly, the whole group (was great). She led us with her demeanor and her toughness. She was unstoppable. She just played super hard, stayed out of foul trouble and dominated the lane.”
TMU’s Megan Lindsley followed with 17 points, while Hannah Ostrom (15) and Ashley Bartow (13) also scored in double figures.
A freshman, Ostrom’s performance underscored the Mustangs’ growth this season from a young team that started the year 2-5 in Golden State Athletic Conference play to a squad that made the conference tournament final and now stands as one of the nation’s final 16 for the second year in a row.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my team,” Waldeck said. “They have stuck with it and gotten better and better. I think we surprised a ton of people with our progress.”
Now, the Mustangs will play National No. 1 seed Freed-Hardeman University, from Henderson, Tennessee, at 1:15 p.m. today.
Freed-Hardeman is 34-0 on the year after beating Rocky Mountain of Montana, 62-52, on Wednesday.