By Mason Nesbitt
For The Signal
The Master’s University women’s basketball team features a formidable one-two punch at the four and the five.
The No. 14-ranked Mustangs have a 6-foot-6 center who leads the NAIA in blocks and is among its leaders in scoring and rebounding. And they trot out one of the Golden State Athletic Conference’s most versatile forwards on a nightly basis in Anika Neuman. She’s hitting 51 percent of her threes on 27 attempts.
Neuman and freshman center Stephanie Soares combined for 34 points in TMU’s 71-63 loss to No. 22 Arizona Christian on Saturday.
Soares put up her fourth straight double-double in the game, with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
On the season, she’s averaging 17.8 points (13th most in NAIA D1), 11.4 rebounds (fourth most in NAIA D1) and 5.3 blocks.
“I think she’s the best post in the country,” Waldeck said.
If that’s true, then Neuman is part of one of the country’s best front courts. The sophomore is scoring 11.1 points in her new role as a stretch four.
Last season, Neuman had to play center and was forced to defend opponents’ best post players. With the addition of Soares, Neuman is left with more energy to utilize a diverse skill set on offense. She scored 16 points against Arizona Christian on 6-of-10 shooting, 4-of-6 from behind the arc.
“She can score from all over,” Waldeck said. “On the block, midrange, off the dribble, three-point line.”
The Mustangs (5-3) will host Hope International at TMU on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Gardner grabs a career high
The Master’s University men’s basketball team teases Brock Gardner that he turns into “Arizona Brock” when the Mustangs travel to play in his home state.
That was good news for Master’s (8-1) on Saturday because Gardner scored a career-high 31 points in a come-from-behind 100-93 win over Arizona Christian University in Phoenix.
Gardner, a product of Tri-City Christian Academy in Chandler, Arizona, made 12-of-21 shots, 4-of-9 from three-point range and three of his four free throws.
The special showing on his home turf wasn’t an outlier.
When Arizona Christian hosted the GSAC tournament last season, Gardner averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds during TMU’s two-game run to the program’s second straight title.
Women’s volleyball caps historic season
After winning the first GSAC regular season and tournament titles in program history this season, the Mustangs traveled to Sioux City, Iowa, for their first NAIA nationals appearance since 2013 last week.
There, Master’s did not advance out of pool play, ending the year at 29-8. The record represented an 18-win improvement over 2017, and the Mustangs are set to return the majority of this year’s squad for a run at a repeat conference title in 2019.
In Iowa, the Mustangs lost to Corban University (3-1), Reinhardt University (3-2) and Dort College (3-1).