The Master’s University Mustangs women’s basketball team defeated Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens, 68-59, on Saturday evening in its regular-season opener to give head coach Lisa Zamroz her first victory at the helm of the Mustangs.
“The first win feels great,” Zamroz said. “It wasn’t the prettiest, but we are excited to start the season with a win.”
The two teams battled to an even first quarter, with the Mustangs and Sagehens tied at 16. TMU then held a one-point lead with a minute and a half remaining in the second quarter, before a late surge gave the Mustangs an eight-point advantage going into the break.
“We finished the half strong, converting on a few fast-break opportunities in the last few minutes,” Zamroz said.
TMU carried that momentum into the third quarter, extending its lead to 15 after two Ella Brubaker layups and a 3-pointer from Rebekah Throns helped the Mustangs open the second half with a 7-0 run.
That advantage was later extended to as many as 19 after another Throns triple, before the Mustangs took a 15-point lead into the fourth quarter.
“Coming out of the half we wanted to try and put the game out of reach,” Zamroz said.
The Sagehens cut their deficit to single digits late in the game, but never really threatened a serious comeback the rest of the way.
“Our youth showed a bit as we tried to close the game,” Zamroz said in reference to her young team, which has nine of 13 players having freshman eligibility. “It was a good lesson for us to learn early, that teams aren’t going to stop fighting and we have to maintain our composure and intensity.”
The up-tempo style of play Zamroz wants to implement in her first year was on display, with the Mustangs forcing 27 turnovers and scoring 25 fast-break points.
“We played really well in spurts,” Zamroz said. “Our athleticism on defense gave us some really good opportunities in transition. We are still developing an understanding of how to best capitalize on those and take care of the ball in the process.”
Zamroz highlighted the play of Throns, who scored 13 points on very efficient 4-for-5 shooting, including 3-for-4 from behind the arc.
“Rebekah has been such a steadying force for us in the first couple games,” Zamroz said. “She’s filling up every category of the stat sheet right now. Her leadership on the floor is invaluable.”
Brubaker led the Mustangs in scoring with 18, while Giani Wimbish-Gay flirted with a triple-double (nine points, six assists, seven steals). Lexi Hernandez (nine points, four rebounds) nearly scored in double figures, while Stephanie Soares (three steals) dominated defensively in the low post with her team-leading four blocks and five rebounds.