Livin' Divita Loca

February 16, 2013

El Cajon, CA -- Looking for a spark to get his team going, men's basketball coach Chuck Martin turned to an improbable source Saturday evening and got more than he expected in The Master's College 85-75 win over San Diego Christian.

That source turned out to be freshman guard Travis Divita (Santa Clarita, CA) who had played sparingly in two games since he became eligible in January.  But, on an evening when the Mustangs were roster-challenged, Divita came through big-time, pouring in a team-high 24 points and leading the club past the Hawks.

The much-needed win, snapping a three-game losing skid, broke a last-place tie with the Hawks and gave the Mustangs sole possession of seventh place.  Amazingly, the Mustangs are just a game out of fourth place with two games left in the regular season, a spot that would net them a first-round home game in the upcoming GSAC Tournament.

Divita didn't make his presence known until more than six minutes were gone in the first half and when he did it was significant.  His layup with 13:23 left in the first half gave the Mustangs a 14-13 lead and his three-pointer, the first of his three treys in the opening half, 36 seconds later, put TMC back in front 17-16.

However, Divita and his teammates had to contend with San Diego Christian's Derek Dickerson and they didn't do a very good job of it as the junior guard drained a jaw-dropping six three-pointers in the first half en route to 24 points.  In one 4:42 stretch in the stanza, Dickerson tallied 16 of the Hawks' 18 points, including a quartet of trifectas, during an 18-8 run that vaulted the hosts to a 29-20 advantage with 9:11 left in the half.

Rocked back on their heels, the Mustangs responded with a burst of their own, outscoring the Hawks 10-0 in less than two minutes to reclaim a 30-29 lead.  A pair of Austin Loeb (Cypress, CA) charity tosses keyed the run and a Divita triple finished it off.

The Mustangs were far from done, though.  After the Hawks knotted the game at 33, Loeb sparked a decisive 9-2 skein with a jumper and a little over two minutes later, Divita canned another trey for a 42-35 lead.  The Mustangs extended the advantage to a half-high eight points twice more before the break, including a Divita layup with just over a minute left that sent the squad to the locker room ahead 49-41.

During the opening 20 minutes, the Mustangs shot a sparkling 55% (18-33) from the field while the Hawks were just a tick better at 56%.  Divita tallied 15 points while Devin Dyer (Temecula, CA) and Loeb contributed 14 and 12 points, respectively.

The late, first-half run put the Mustangs ahead for good but the game still had 20 minutes left and the Hawks did everything they could to erase the deficit in an attempt to produce a rally.  A Karlberg three-pointer at the 17:49 mark made it a ten-point game (52-42) and the Hawks didn't get closer than six points until two Jacob Garcia free throws closed the gap to 63-58 with 10:18 left to play.

A Divita trifecta 12 seconds later lengthened the margin to eight points (66-58) but the Hawks didn't let it get away from them, slicing the deficit to three points (70-67) on an Andy Saharan three-point play at the 5:24 mark.

However, the Mustangs were up to this challenge and the Divita-Karlberg-Dyer troika led the way, tallying 13 of the club's final 15 points to secure the win.  Dyer struck first with a layup, Divita equaled that, and when Karlberg hit another trey with 3:55 remaining, the Mustangs had reclaimed a 10-point margin, 78-68.

The advantage didn't slip below eight points the rest of the way and, in fact, the Mustangs extended it to a game-high 12 points twice in the final minute, once (82-70) on a Dyer layup and the final time (85-73) on a Karlberg free toss.

The Mustangs dipped to 40% (12-30) accuracy in the second half but survived because the Hawks couldn't do better than 44%.

Divita's team-high total came on 8-11 shooting, including a 4-6 mark from behind the arc, and a 4-4 showing from the line.  Dyer was right behind with 23 points on 10-17 accuracy, Karlberg tallied 16 more,15 of those coming on five trifectas, and Loeb finished with 15.

In the hunt for a fourth-place finish entering the regular season's final week, the Mustangs return home Tuesday evening to host Vanguard, a team they lost to 81-70 on January 29.  Game time is slated for 7:30pm in Bross Gym.