Paul Brown played stellar defense and hit two big free throws with under 30 seconds remaining to propel The Master’s College past No. 15 Biola 61-55 Tuesday evening before a raucous, partisan crowd in Bross Gym.
Winning their GSAC opener, the Mustangs rebounded nicely from their first loss of the season to Claremont Saturday evening and moved to 7-1 on the season.
Brown tallied only six points and made only two of five from the line but those pair of makes gave the Mustangs a 59-55 edge with 29 seconds left on the clock. They were the middle points of a game-closing 6-0 run that put the club on the way to victory.
Prior to Brown’s big charity tosses, Devin Dyer had put the Mustangs ahead with a jumper at the 45-second mark. Leif Karlberg, who finished the evening with 13 points, added a pair of insurance free throws with 19 seconds remaining.
The final minutes of play reflected the nip-and-tuck nature of the contest that featured 12 ties and eight lead changes. Biola’s largest lead of the game came at 46-40 with 10:56 remaining while the Mustangs’ largest advantage was 14-6 at the 12:17 mark of the opening half.
After the Mustangs built that margin, courtesy of a 10-0 run, including five from Dyer, the Eagles fought back, tying the game at 16 when Bailey hit a jumper with 7:31 left in the first half. That set up a back-and-forth tussle over the final minutes of the half as neither squad led by more than four points. That proved to be the Eagles who led by that many (26-22) before settling for a 34-31 lead at the break.
Over the opening 20 minutes, the Mustangs outshot the Eagles (52%-44%) but a 7-10 showing from behind the arc by the Eagles forged the halftime lead. Lamar Lee paced the Eagles with 11 points, featuring a trio of three-pointers, while Anthony Cammon scored nine points for the Mustangs.
In the first 10 minutes of the final half, the Mustangs turned the three-point shot to their advantage and the sharpshooting Karlberg was at the forefront. His first of three second-half trifectas vaulted the Mustangs into the lead, 36-35,with 16:37 left to play and his other two came in back-to-back fashion, erasing the Eagles’ six-point advantage and knotting the game at 46.
Mirroring the final minutes of the first half, no more than two points separated the clubs from the eight-minute mark until Brown’s huge free tosses in the final minute of play. Dyer, Brown, and Karlberg may have been the big names down the stretch but something called defense played a larger role in the win.
Brown had two blocks and locked down Andre Murillo, limiting the Eagles’ leading scorer (19.8ppg) to 2-11 shooting and 10 points. The Mustangs held the Eagles to 20% (6-30) shooting in the second half, including a 0-10 performance from behind the arc.
Cammon, who suffered through a 5-13 shooting evening, still produced enough to score a team-high 15 points while Karlberg, taking just six shots, had two fewer points. Brown added a team-best nine rebounds to go along with his six points.
The Mustangs will attempt to make it eight wins in nine tries this Friday evening when they host Central Bible of Missouri in a 7:30pm tip in Bross Gym.