Devin Dyer is thriving as a starter. Just look at the last two Saturday nights for proof. The sophomore guard hit a buzzer-beating, game-winning, three-pointer against Pt. Loma Nazarene last Saturday evening and tonight he poured in a game-high 21 points to lead the Mustangs past California Baptist 64-57.
The Mustangs' second win in three games kept them in the running for the GSAC's eighth and final playoff spot. With two regular-season games remaining, the Mustangs (11-17 overall, 4-14 GSAC) are tied for that position with both Hope International and Vanguard. At this point, both of those clubs hold the tie-breaker with the Mustangs, so TMC will need some help next week to qualify for the conference tournament.
Dyer's doing everything he can to get his team into the postseason. Over the past 10 games, he has averaged 16.1 points per game, highlighted by a 27-point performance at No. 2 Concordia on February 5 and tonight's fifth 20-point outing of the year.
He tallied nearly a quarter of that total in the first 4:15 of play when his layup at the 16:43 mark gave the Mustangs a lead (7-6) they would hold onto until deep into the second half followed by a three-pointer that was part of an 8-0 run for a 13-6 advantage.
The Lancers would carve into that deficit over the next couple of minutes, getting as close as one point (13-12) before the Mustangs took off again. Up 16-14 with just over 11 minutes left in the half, Joey Fuca buried a jumper, fueling a 13-2 burst in a 5:22 window that pushed the margin to a game-high 13 points (29-16). In that stretch, Dyer drained a three-pointer and then capped off the run with a layup at the 5:47 mark.
Desperate to stay in the game, the Lancers rallied with five consecutive points but a Paul Brown layup and an Anthony Wells' jumper pushed the lead back into double figures and the Mustangs took a 33-22 advantage at halftime.
With Dyer and Anthony Cammon scoring 10 and nine points, respectively, the Mustangs shot a respectable 47% from the field in the first half while limiting the Lancers to 47% accuracy.
The Mustangs' double-digit lead didn't last very long as the Lancers came out firing in the opening minutes of the second half, methodically whittling away at the deficit until they tied the game at 39 with 11:44 remaining.
Consecutive buckets by Brandon Bibbins and Dyer reclaimed the lead for the Mustangs but it was only temporary as the Lancers ripped off seven points in a row to take a 46-43 lead, their largest of the evening, with 8:19 left to play.
The teams traded baskets and leads over the next four minutes until a Cammon layup at the 3:35 mark put the Mustangs ahead to stay, 54-52. It was not over by a long shot but three Lancer turnovers and a march to the free throw by the Mustangs sealed matters.
Cammon's layup was the last field goal of the evening for the Mustangs but it didn't matter. They found another way to score, tallying their final 10 points from the charity stripe. Dyer started the parade at the 2:35 mark but it was three straight conversions by Cammon and six in a row by Fuca that iced the victory.
Dyer's game-high total came on 9-18 shooting from the field and he also took down six rebounds. Cammon was the only other Mustang in double figures, tallying 16 points. Leif Karlberg chipped in with nine points and Fuca had eight more. Wells scored only four points but grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
The road to the postseason gets a lot more bumpy Tuesday evening when the Mustangs welcome No. 5 Azusa Pacific to Bross Gym. Tip-off is set for 7:30pm.