December 31, 2013
Phoenix, AZ -- Cutting down an oak tree in Placerita Canyon, home of The Master’s College, demands a permit.
Cutting down the Oaks of Menlo Tuesday evening in Phoenix wasn’t as demanding as the Mustangs employed a balanced attack and never trailed in a 72-46 whipping of Menlo on the second and final day of the Embassy Suites Classic at Arizona Christian University.
Beating the Oaks for the second time in a month (a 77-73 decision on November 30), the Mustangs extended their winning streak to eight games and moved to 11-2 on the season.
Their path to victory was paved by a trio of first-half runs, mirroring the Mustangs’ method of victory the night before in a 67-46 beating of Mt. Marty.
It started with a 6-0 burst in the game’s first six minutes, keyed by a pair of Zach Stalin (Bellingham, WA) free throws and finished off by a Jason Logan (Spartanburg, SC) jumper for an 8-2 lead with 14:38 left in the opening half.
A little over a minute later, the Mustangs were at it again, ripping off nine straight points in a 2:47 span to extend their advantage to 17-6. Derrick Fain (Dallas, TX) ignited the skein with a three-point play and fellow Texan Chris Patureau (Houston, TX) capped it off with a layup, giving the Mustangs a 17-6 lead at the 10:42 mark.
The Mustangs had another 9-0 run left in their saddle and this one essentially put the game away, although there were still more than five minutes left in the first stanza when it was over. Fain was the initiator once again, hitting a jumper with 10:12 showing on the clock, Patureau converted back-to-back layups, and Reid Shackelford (Murrieta, TX) drained a three-pointer, handing the Mustangs a 26-8 lead with 5:29 left in the half.
The margin reached 20 points for the first time less than four minutes later (1:39) when Bernard Ireland (Victorville, CA) scored on a layup before the Oaks reeled off four straight points, reducing the Mustang lead to 35-19 at the break.
Over the opening 20 minutes, the Mustangs, paced by Patureau’s eight points, shot a solid 48% (15-31) from the field while limiting the Oaks to 33% accuracy.
The Mustangs didn’t enjoy another 20-point lead until the game’s final five minutes but the Oaks couldn’t get any closer than 13 points (37-24 at the 18:10 mark of the second half) as the Mustangs had an answer for every Menlo surge, never really letting the Oaks get in sight of a comeback.
Another Ireland basket with 13:33 left to play extended the advantage to 47-28 and when the Oaks scored four straight points, the Mustangs responded in like manner with a Patureau jumper and a Korey Anderson (Clovis, CA) layup.
Closing out the contest in dominating fashion, the Mustangs outscored the Oaks 15-5 over the final 5:53, producing the largest lead and the final score in the process. Part of that surge was a 10-0 skein sparked by an Ireland layup and capped off by a Stalin trifecta. In the middle, Travis Divita (Canyon Country, CA) sank a three-pointer and Patureau added a layup.
Stalin wound up with a game-high 14 points, ten of those coming in the second half, while Patureau and Lanier scored 12 and 10 points, respectively. Four more Mustangs registered at least six points as a balanced attack led to 53% (17-32) shooting in the second half and 51% for the game.
Riding their eight-game winning streak, the Mustangs return to Southern California where, in the middle of their 2013-14 schedule, they’ll play an exhibition at UC Santa Barbara this Saturday before returning to regular-season action at Cal State San Marcos on January 7.