That's The Pits!

January 29, 2013

Costa Mesa, CA -- There's a reason why Vanguard's home gym is nicknamed The Pit.  Over the years, The Master's College men's basketball team has had its struggles there and Tuesday night was no exception as the Lions used a 20-6 run that bridged the halves to run away from the Mustangs, 81-70, in a game that marked the halfway point of conference play.

Dropping their sixth contest in their last eight outings, the Mustangs fell to 13-9 overall and, more importantly, 2-5 in the GSAC where they are joined by three other teams in a tie for fifth place.

That game-changing run started with a tying (28-all) bucket by Jordan Diandy with 2:46 left in the first half and ended over seven minutes later when Chris Gorman drained a three-pointer with 15:16 remaining in the contest for a 46-34 lead.

The Lions weren't done yet, either.  Not content to just trade baskets with the Mustangs, the Lions extended the margin to as many as 16 points (66-50) and didn't let the lead dip under 10 points until Derrick Fain (Dallas, TX) capped off a late 7-2 burst with a layup, slicing the deficit to 72-63 with just over a minute to play.

But, the Lions trampled any hopes of a miraculous comeback, reeling off six straight points from the line to restore order.  In fact, the hosts tallied their final 11 points from the charity stripe, where they enjoyed a 23-9 advantage during the evening.

If the outcome had been determined by the first 10 minutes of action, the Mustangs would have walked away with a win.  Converting eight of their first 11 shots from the field, the Mustangs galloped to a 19-9 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the opening stanza.

Sandwiching layups from Paul Brown (Kingston, Jamaica) and Devin Dyer (Temecula, CA) around a Jason Logan (Spartanburg, SC) dunk, the Mustangs scored the game's first six points.  After the Lions answered with a 7-4 skein to pull within 10-7 at the 12:01 mark, the Mustangs bolted again, tallying nine of the game's next 11 points to create a 19-9 lead with 10:03 left in the half.  Logan Quinn (Little Rock,AR) fueled the burst with a three-pointer, Korey Anderson (Clovis, CA) converted a three-point play, and Lance Reeves (Visalia, CA) capped it off with another trifecta.

The Mustangs' only double-digit advantage of the evening lasted less than a minute and seemed to awaken the listless Lions who used eight points, including a pair of three-pointers, from Taylor Kelly, who was just getting started, to draw within 19-18 at the 7:32 mark of the half.

Clinging to the slightest of leads, the Mustangs answered with a Leif Karlberg (Anchorage, AK) three-pointer and fended off the Lions one more time on a Fain layup with 5:23 left.  However, the Lions were just starting to run at full speed and Kelly led the way.  HItting consecutive trifectas for the second time in less than five minutes, he single-handedly put his club ahead 26-24.

The Mustangs retaliated with four straight points from Brown to reclaim the lead (28-26) at the 3:02 mark but moments later Diandy knotted the game with a layup that sparked the Lions' decisive run and the Mustangs never led again.

Hitting 47% of their shots from the field, the Mustangs enjoyed a slight edge over the Lions (43%) but the visitors couldn't overcome the deficit at the free-throw line and five Vanguard players in double figures.

Logan paced the Mustangs with 13 points while Dyer and Fain added 12 points apiece.  Brown tallied eight points and tore down a game-high nine rebounds.

With seven games left in the regular season, the Mustangs are now in must-win mode if they have any chance of finishing in the upper half of the conference standings and securing a first-round home playoff game in the GSAC Tournament.  Their first challenge in that direction comes in the form of No. 25 Arizona Christian which comes to Bross Gym Saturday for a 7:30pm start.  The Firestorm beat the Mustangs 84-69 in the Valley of the Sun back on January 12.