Playing on its home court for the first time this season, The Master’s University women’s basketball team put on a show for the fans in attendance, defeating Westcliff University 107-45 on Friday night.
The Mustangs were led by freshman Stephanie Soares, who scored 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field. She added six rebounds, four blocks and three steals.
While the 6-foot-6 center showcased her dominance in the post, she also led the team’s fastbreak on a couple of occasions and flashed a mid-range jumper so smooth you’d think she was a shooting guard.
“She’s special. She’s really selfless,” said TMU head coach Dan Waldeck. “She’s learning to do what it takes to work hard on every possession. She’s going to be unique.”
“I think my teammates help me a lot. They encourage me to be a better player,” Soares said.
While the Mustangs built a comfortable 26-14 lead in the first quarter, some early shots weren’t falling and the team had a few unforced turnovers.
Soares said she was a “little nervous at the beginning” because it was her and the team’s first home game of the season.
Her coach reiterated that sentiment.
“I thought we had some nerves in the first half,” Waldeck said. “We were a little sloppy but we came around in the second half.”
Junior guard Brooke Bailey was one of the Mustangs who struggled with her shot in the first quarter, but she stuck with it and kept firing.
Eventually, the 3-ball started to fall to the tune of three made 3-pointers in six attempts. Bailey finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. She was 5-of-12 from the field.
“Our coach says keep letting it fly and our team is so supportive in that. We all believe in each other, even if shots are not falling we always believe in each other,” Bailey said. “When they aren’t falling that’s when you really got to contribute in other ways and try to find other ways to help the team. I thought our team did that tonight.”
TMU’s defense ramped it up after halftime, forcing the Warriors into 24 turnovers, 13 of which came in the second half.
The Mustangs shot 50 percent from the field compared to 29.1 percent for the Warriors.
“I thought we made it tough to score, but credit to them, they probably hit 10 floaters over our bigs. Tough shots,” Waldeck said. “I like the way the defense is progressing, but we didn’t hit our goal defensively. We definitely improved as the game went on.”
“Our team’s main focus is defense. We ground ourselves on our defense,” Bailey said. “I think we have so many qualities in each player that are defensively highlighted, we can really utilize them to shut down teams.”
With TMU holding an 85-36 lead at the end of the third quarter, Waldeck was able to get some additional playing time for his bench and get his starters some well-deserved rest.
Jamilee Iddings was the second-leading scorer in the game with 17 points and led a bench unit that put up 37 points in total.
Hannah Throns had seven points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals while her sister Rebekah added three points, 13 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks off the bench.
Tristen Coltom added six points, two assists and two steals.
“Our bench mob played really well tonight,” Waldeck said. “Tristen, Jamilee, the Throns sisters did a really good job. I thought our bench did a great job.”
TMU will have a few days off before taking on Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks on Monday, Nov. 19. The game is scheduled to tip off at 6:30 p.m.