By Bryanna Winner
For The Signal
The TMU Mustangs traveled to Northridge on Tuesday night to take on the Matadors in the final exhibition game before the season began and came out with the 65-61 win.
TMU was missing four members of the team for this game but prevailed as many players stepped up in their absence.
“This is the toughest schedule we’ve ever had. Hopefully, this just gives us confidence but also a reality where we need to improve,” said coach Dan Waldeck. “I think the sky’s the limit with this group. We get infused back with some kids hopefully soon and that will be a big shot in the arm for us.”
The Mustangs jumped to an early lead in the first quarter as they led 14-4 by the end of the frame. Sophomore center Stephanie Soares led the scoring for the team with nine points, while juniors Tristen Coltom and Madi Hull had three and two points, respectively.
TMU went on a 10-3 run to start the second quarter beginning with a Soares jumper. The Matadors, however, came to life towards the end of the second quarter as they kept a full-court press on the Mustangs to stop the bleeding.
The Matadors went on an 8-0 run with a little over a minute to go, but that wasn’t enough to keep the Mustangs at bay as they led 35-21 going into halftime.
By the break, the Mustangs shot 43.3% from the field, 45.5% from 3-point range and 66.7% from the free-throw line. Soares had 15 of the team’s 35 points while Coltom, Hull and freshman Olivia Prettyman had six points apiece.
The Matadors came out strong in the third quarter and forced turnovers to go on a 12-2 run to end the quarter. Mustangs led 47-44 to start the fourth.
The mentality going into the fourth quarter was positive all around even after the Matadors finished the previous quarter on a large run.
“We knew that they were going to pressure us and we knew that’s one of our weaknesses,” said Soares. “We just have to work hard to get the ball on the other side of the court.”
“I was nervous, as always because I’m a freshman, but knowing that my team is around me and their experience and trust in them, it built me up and we were positive about it,” said Prettyman. “It helped me not be as nervous and fearful when getting the ball when they were so close coming at us and just pushing forward and not giving up.”
Both teams went back and forth during the fourth quarter and CSUN came within two with under 20 seconds left, but ultimately, TMU came away with the win.
“I thought they did great, to be able to get that lead. When you look at it, we had some youth show at times but we had a similar situation the other night and our kids didn’t respond very well,” said Waldeck. “We were able to respond a lot better tonight even on the road and that’s a positive.”
Before the next game this weekend, the team will be working on what needs some improvement and getting mentally and physically fresh.
“We need to work against the zone a little bit more, we haven’t worked a ton on that,” said Waldeck. “We need to get fresh, our bodies fresh, we had kids play a lot of minutes tonight because of the injuries and sickness.”
The Mustangs will begin the regular season at the Bill Holtz Warrior Classic against Southeastern University Friday at 10 a.m. before taking on Oregon Tech on Saturday in Rocklin.