The Master’s University women’s basketball team won its 15th straight game to begin the season in a dominant defensive effort and 80-46 win against the University of Alberta in the Jersey Mike’s Classic Tournament at the MacArthur Center on Monday.
The Mustangs held the Pandas to 33.9% shooting from the field and forced 20 turnovers, while only turning the ball over nine times for the 19th consecutive home win dating back to last season.
“I thought the girls played really well. We were locked in defensively,” said Master’s head coach Dan Waldeck. “That team is really good and I thought our team played at a high level. From one to 14, they all played great.”
Three Mustangs finished in double figures as Stephanie Soares recorded a double-double with a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds, Brooke Bailey hit 4-of-6 3-pointers and finished with 13 points and Valencia alumnus Sabrina Thompson finished with 10 points.
Soares and Bailey set the tone early in the contest for the Mustangs (15-0 overall, 3-0 GSAC) as Soares controlled the paint, while Bailey made it rain from deep to force the Pandas into an early double-digit deficit down 23-6 with 3:19 remaining in the first quarter.
“I think everybody that stepped on the court contributed with their intensity,” Bailey said. “We set the bar for ourselves in the first two minutes and the people that came in matched it. That’s our team. We set a standard and we held it together and just feeding off one another with our intensity really helped us to get that momentum that we all needed.”
Finishing the first quarter with five steals, The Master’s defensive intensity ramped up in the second frame as they held the University of Alberta (10-7) to just nine points and a game-low 23.5% shooting going 4-of-17 from the field.
The lineup of Madi Hull, Hannah Ostrom, Tristen Coltom, Rebakah Throns and Anika Neuman made it nearly impossible for the visitors to set up their offense or get any good looks at the basket with the Mustangs’ swarming defense.
The defensive containment continued into the third quarter of play as the Mustangs forced the visitors to turn the ball over seven times in the frame with Ostrom leading the charge with three steals. Ostrom finished the game with a game-high five steals.
“We were swarming, we were relentless, I thought our guards set the tone, our backlines were reading off of the guards’ pressure, we were able to rotate correctly,” Waldeck said of the team’s defense in the middle frames. “It just wasn’t anything easy and we were cleaning up the backside glass. Those combinations led to some easy buckets for us and really frustrated them over time.”
Heading into the fourth quarter, ahead 66-32, underclassmen Caitlin Monten, Katelyn Saulog, Kaleigh Moss, Kelsey Zelenski and Olivia Prettyman got in on the action and combined to score 11 points and preserve the Mustangs’ unblemished record.
“For us, it’s just another win. It means as much as it does until the next game and in the next game, we are trying to get better,” Waldeck said. “We are going to play another style of team. I think we have played like 10 different styles of team in our first 15 games. That sets us up for good success. Our kids are learners and the culture is alive and that’s something that we have worked hard to build over the past 25 years and we have a group of kids that owns it.”