January 15, 2013
Santa Clarita, CA -- Something had to give Tuesday evening in Bross Gym.
Defending national champion Concordia and The Master's, both picked to finish in the upper half of the GSAC, entered the contest winless (0-2) in conference play. A victory would propel the winner into the middle of the pack and a loss would send the loser into the basement.
Trying to snap a three-game losing skid, the Mustangs may have been even more desperate than the Eagles but even that wasn't enough as the visitors parlayed a late, first-half burst and a resilient second stanza into an 88-78 win. The defeat dropped the Mustangs to 11-7 overall and 0-3 in the GSAC.
That burst came after the Mustangs galloped to a 16-8 lead in the game's first seven minutes. That advantage was forged by a 10-2 run that junior Jason Logan (Spartanburg, SC) ignited with a layup at the 16:13 mark and Lance Reeves (Visalia, CA) finished off with a trifecta nearly three minutes later (13:20).
The Mustangs were still ahead 20-13 with 10:37 left in the half when the Eagles started to show their wings. Fueled by an 8-0 run in a three-minute window, Concordia regained the lead at 21-20 on a Jywrell Wilson three-point play. After a Devin Dyer (Temecula, CA) jumper put the Mustangs back in front, the Eagles went off again, ripping off nine consecutive points in just over a minute to move ahead for good, 30-22.
If that wasn't enough, the Eagles closed out what turned into a 36-12 half-closing run by reeling off the final nine points of the half to claim a 44-28 lead at intermission. The guests shot a crisp 52% (14-27) during the opening 20 minutes with 19 points coming off 11 Mustang turnovers. Meanwhile, the Mustangs hit at 46% (13-28) accuracy.
If the first half featured a trio of game-changing runs, the second stanza resembled an accordion, at least on the scoreboard. Over the final 20 minutes of play, the Mustangs would carve into the deficit many times but just when it seemed they would produce a miraculous rally, the Eagles responded by stretching out the lead again.
The first evidence of this tenor of play came in the first five minutes of the second half when the Mustangs, sandwiching three-pointers from Derrick Fain (Dallas, TX) and Karlberg around a Karlberg layup, used an 8-2 burst to close to 53-43. However, the Eagles responded with a trey from Wilson to spawn a 7-2 skein that ballooned the advantage back to 15 points (60-45) with 12:29 remaining.
The Eagle advantage reached 16 points (65-49) just over a minute later before the Mustangs surged back. Keyed by the second of consecutive shots from behind the arc by Karlberg, the Mustangs ripped off eight unanswered points to slice the deficit to 65-57 on a Fain jumper with 9:26 left to play.
Once again, though, the Eagles bounced back, clawing the Mustangs with a 7-1 skein that moved the margin back into double digits (72-58) at the 7:46 mark. It stayed that way over the next five minutes before the Mustangs made one last rush. Down 80-66 with 4:12 showing on the clock, the Mustangs put together a 6-0 skein that drew them within 80-72. Karlberg's final trifecta of the evening got it started and Dyer capped it with three points, highlighted by a resounding, breakaway dunk.
However, the Mustangs couldn't get any closer as the Eagles took advantage of TMC's desperation down the stretch by tallying their final six points from the line to seal the win.
Karlberg, who has gone 18-33 from behind the arc over the past five games, drained five more three-pointers Tuesday night en route to a career-high 30 points to go along with a season-best eight rebounds. Dyer, who played his heart out on a night when he got in early foul trouble, added 16 more.
If it was tough against Concordia, it gets even more difficult for the Mustangs over the next week. On Saturday, they travel to La Mirada to take on Biola and then return home next Tuesday to welcome No. 8 Westmont to Bross Gym.