No. 5 TMU men’s basketball takes care of conference opener against Menlo


It was business as usual Thursday night for The Master’s University men’s basketball team.

Riding a 13-game winning streak into its Golden State Athletic Conference opener, the Mutangs continued to brutalize opponents with a 102-72 win over Menlo College at Bross Court.

“It was really important to send that message about how good we are,” said TMU coach Kelvin Starr. “I think what’s scary for our team is that I don’t think we were that good defensively tonight.”

TMU – ranked No. 5 in the latest NAIA men’s basketball coaches poll – has won its last three games by at least 25 points. It also dropped at least 100 points for the fourth straight game and shot 48.5 percent from behind the arc through 33 attempts.

Lawrence Russell collected a double-double, matching a team-high with 23 points while leading the Mustangs (15-1, 1-0 GSAC) with 10 rebounds and seven assists. Hansel Atencia also scored 23 points as both went 4 of 9 from 3-point range. Atencia also added five assists.

“We don’t want to just be good in conference, we want to win our conference,” Russell said. “We want to show people we’re the top dog.”

Just two games removed from a 33-point, 11-rebound effort against Antelope Valley, Tim Soares was third on the team with 21 points, going 8 of 10 from the field. He collected eight rebounds as well.

“We know we can score the ball. Somebody is going to go off every night,” Russell said. “We just have to stay keyed in defensively.”

Soares also commanded play above the rim, throwing down four dunks in the first half, including an alley-oop from Russell. His night was cut short, though, fouling out with 9:22 to play in the second half.

Menlo (13-3, 0-1) hung around for the first six minutes of the game. But TMU broke away midway through the first half, jumping out to a 26-16 lead with just under nine minutes to play. The Mustangs held Menlo to a 36-percent mark from the field in the first half and led 50-28. Menlo shot 45.2 percent from the field in the second half, though. John Paine led the Oaks with 14 points.

“I think we gave up way too much penetration in the second half for what we would like,” Starr said.

MORE: TMU hoops teams entering Golden State Athletic Conference play

TMU will look to add on to its 14-game winning streak when it hosts William Jessup – ranked No. 22 in the NAIA coaches poll – on Saturday at Bross Court.

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