The No. 21 Master’s University women’s basketball team built an early 23-9 first quarter lead that it didn’t relinquish, defeating No. 24 William Jessup 69-59 Thursday night at The MacArthur Center.
Freshman center Stephanie Soares and sophomore guard Tristen Coltom got things going for the Mustangs early, with the pair combining for 13 first quarter points and 24 of the Mustang’s 40 points at halftime.
Soares finished the contest with a career-high 30 points, 12 rebounds, eight blocks, three steals and one assist.
“She played great tonight. She was all over the court defensively changing the game,” said TMU head coach Dan Waldeck. “She’s been working really hard and you’re seeing it show. I think she’s the best post in the country and she played like it tonight.”
Coltom provided a spark off the bench, along with Brooke Bailey, Jamilee Iddings and Hannah Ostrom, who is gradually returning to form after missing the beginning of the season due to injury.
“Our bench is a big key for us because it allows us to play with a little bit more pressure,” Waldeck said. “Our bench has been pretty good all year and tonight was no different. Tristen and Jami (Iddings) have been staples off the bench. Hannah Ostrom got back in the there a little bit more tonight, trying to get her to back to full health.”
Starting guard Hannah Forrar was also involved early, crashing the glass to the tune of three offensive rebounds in the first quarter.
The Mustangs outrebounded the Warriors 43-26 and pulled down 13 offensive boards, giving TMU numerous second-chance opportunities.
“I could just feel the energy of our team and I knew that we were offensive rebounding really well, so I just had confidence in my team when I was shooting like ‘hey, if this doesn’t go in my team’s got me,’” said Coltom, who finished with 10 points, three assists and a steal in 17 minutes. “I just felt together we had this camaraderie in the beginning and you could just feel it.”
William Jessup tried to push the tempo early and often, but TMU’s transition defense was solid, forcing the Warriors into five first quarter turnovers.
The Mustangs shot 47.5 percent from the field compared to the Warriors’ 36.8 percent, thanks in large part to Soares’ smothering defense.
“It’s very important, it helps the team,” Soares said about her defensive performance. “Helping on defense, that’s what I love to do.”
While her defense certainly stood out on Thursday, her overall offensive dominance stole the show.
Soares shot 15-of-25 from the field (60 percent) and was practically unguardable in the post.
“We knew that we wanted to be balanced, so get it into the post and shoot the three,” Soares said. “They were passing the ball to me a lot and I was able to score more.”
Playing alongside a dominant big has made life easier for Coltom, Forrar and the rest of TMU’s guards.
“It’s so fun to play with her. You know no one can stop her and when you pass it to her you know she’s going to catch it because she has great hands,” Coltom said. “It’s just really fun to play with her.”
The victory marks the third time TMU has defeated a ranked opponent this season, with the other two victories coming against Carroll College and Wayland Baptist, which were both ranked in the top 10 at the time.
The Mustangs won’t have too much time relax as they take on another ranked opponent on Saturday with No. 11 Menlo College coming to town. The conference game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. tip-off.
“We better be ready to guard in transition because they are going to push the pace as fast as they can go,” Waldeck said about the upcoming game against Menlo College. “We have to be able to rebound and stop them in the lane.”
With Thursday night’s win, the Mustangs move to 11-4 on the season and 4-1 in the Golden State Athletic Conference.