Dorton, Salazar Leave Mustangs Hopeless
Road wins are key markers along the way for successful teams. That’s why Saturday night’s game at Hope International was so important for The Master’s College women’s basketball team.
Fresh off an agonizing, yet satisfying win over Fresno Pacific Tuesday evening, the Mustangs felt they had a great chance to move back to .500 in GSAC play against a Royal squad that was winless in conference play.
Instead, the Mustangs couldn’t contain the Royals’ one-two punch of Samera Dorton and Lauren Salazar and never led in a 73-64 loss. It was the fourth defeat in the club’s past six outings and dropped it to 8-8 overall and 1-3 in the GSAC.
Dorton and Salazar, who combined for 40 points and 32 rebounds, sparked an early 8-4 spurt that put the hosts ahead for good. But, it was a 5-0 run by the Royals and a four-minute scoring drought by the Mustangs that pushed the advantage to 13-6, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
A Millie Rivera three-pointer with 10:29 left in the first half closed the gap to 13-9 but it proved to be only a slight interruption as the Royals, fueled by eight combined points from Dorton and Salazar, ripped off 10 straight points to assume command 23-9.
TMC’s Morgan Schwegler sank a jumper to end the Royal burst but again it was just another speed bump for the Royals who tallied 10 of the game’s next 12 points to push the advantage to a game-high 20 points (33-13) at the 5:23 mark.
On the cusp of being blown out, the Mustangs answered with one of their best stretches of play during what turned out to be a very disappointing. Energized by a defense that held the Royals without a point for nearly four minutes, the Mustangs tallied seven straight points, pulling to within 33-20 on an Ella Joines’ layup with 1:37 remaining before halftime.
Kaylynn Martin’s jumper a minute later gave the Mustangs their final points of the half and they went to the break down 34-22. The Mustangs hit just 29% of their shots in the first half while the Royals, led by Dorton’s 15 points, weren’t that much better at 37%.
Spurred by consecutive baskets from Lena Rivera, the Mustangs broke out of the second-half gate with four straight points and eventually sliced the deficit to 40-32 on another Rivera basket with 17:15 left to play.
But, the Salazar-Dorton duo went back to work once again, combining for six consecutive points and building the lead to 46-32. That tandem kept the Mustangs from making any significant inroads into the deficit the rest of the way. They got some help, too, from Brittany Bauman whose trifecta with 12:26 remaining pushed the margin to 18 points (52-34).
Despite all of this, the Mustangs still had something left. They showed it with a 9-1 skein over a three-minute span to pull within 53-43 with 8:33 showing on the clock. Freshman Whitney Best ignited it with a layup, Rivera added a free throw and a layup, Zoe Scott hit a jumper, and Martin completed it with a jumper.
But, Bauman drained a three-pointer and Salazar scored on a layup and hit a trey to put to rest any comeback hopes the Mustangs entertained. With one more run left in them, the Mustangs did manage to close the deficit to seven points (69-62) on a pair of Scott free throws with 30 ticks left on the clock but that was it.
Dorton was absolutely outstanding, posting game-highs of 21 points and a like number of rebounds in a dominating performance. Salazar was the perfect complement, tallying 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
The ever-hustling Rivera and Martin scored 12 points apiece to pace the Mustangs while Joines chipped in with 10 more.
Trying to turn things around, the Mustangs travel to Irvine on Tuesday to take on Concordia. They return home on January 14 to host Vanguard.
Around the GSAC on January 7th
Point Loma Nazarene 62, Fresno Pacific (H) 44
Vanguard (H) 53, Azusa Pacific 52
Biola (H) 62, Concordia 46
Westmont (H) 67, San Diego Christian 63
Hope International (H) 73, The Master's 64