Over the weekend, inside a gym filled nearly to capacity, The Master’s University became the first institution to win men’s and women’s Golden State Athletic Conference regular-season titles in the same season since 2013-14.
The fifth-ranked Mustang women beat No. 9 Vanguard 67-52 on Saturday, a victory lap of sorts after the team claimed the outright GSAC title two days earlier against Life Pacific.
It was the program’s first-ever regular season title.
Later Saturday, TMU’s men beat No. 6 Vanguard 78-64 to earn at least a share of its second consecutive conference title.
The No. 10-ranked Mustangs, who entered the night tied with Vanguard for first place, can win the crown outright Thursday when they host Hope International at 7:30 p.m.
The atmosphere Saturday – created by a crowd of approximately 1,000 fans – was electric.
“We had a great crowd tonight, and the whole event was fun for the whole school,” said TMU men’s basketball head coach Kelvin Starr. “With the girls taking care of business, celebrating at the end, the party beforehand outside, the live band. It was just a great night.”
The men’s and women’s teams took turns cutting down the nets inside The MacArthur Center after the double-header. Early on, it wasn’t clear the men would have such an opportunity.
Starr felt his team was playing with fool’s gold in the first half. The Mustangs had overcome an 11-point deficit and pulled into halftime with a 38-31 lead.
TMU’s defense was solid: Master’s held Vanguard to 31% from the floor. But Starr knew his offense needed to be more patient.
“At halftime I said, ‘The defense is fine. We’re holding them, but it’s kind of fool’s gold for us,’” Starr said. “’If we keep shooting quick shots, they’re going to catch us.’ The intentionality in the second half was great for us.”
Master’s made just 5-of-16 three-point attempts before the break, but from there it made a concerted effort to play downhill. The Mustangs attempted just six threes over the final 20 minutes (making three) and got to the free throw line 18 times, knocking down 13.
The Mustangs led by as many as 17 in the closing minute, a number that belied how talented a team they were facing.
TMU’s women also won comfortably against a highly ranked opponent. No. 9 Vanguard scored the game’s first basket before the Mustangs went on a 20-0 run to take control.
Anika Neuman scored 13 points to lead Master’s, which had finished second in the GSAC four times since joining the conference before the 2001-2002 season.
With its first-ever conference regular season title comes the No. 1 seed in this week’s GSAC tournament. The Mustangs received a bye through the first round and will play the winner of Vanguard and William Jessup on Friday night at 7:30.
The tournament is being hosted by Menlo College in Atherton, California.
“It’s something we knew we were capable of doing from the first day we had everyone together,” junior guard Brooke Bailey said of winning the GSAC title. “We knew this team was going to be special.”
For more information on The Master’s University Athletic Department, visit GoMustangs.com.