California Baptist's inside-outside duo of Dana Olsen and V. V. Vasciunaite combined for 39 points Saturday evening to lead the seventh-ranked Lancers to a wire-to-wire, 72-62 win over The Master's College.
The Mustangs' second consecutive loss and fourth in their last five outings dropped them to 9-9 in the GSAC and 16-11 overall. With two conference games remaining, the squad is tied for sixth place with Concordia. Eight teams qualify for the upcoming GSAC Tournament so the Mustangs are guaranteed a spot but they'll play a first-round game on the road.
All evening long, the Mustangs had no answer for the Olsen/Vasciunaite tandem that went a combined 25-28 from the line. They started early, combining for the game's first five points as the Lancers never trailed. After the Mustangs closed to 7-6 on a Zoe Scott three-pointer with 14:45 left in the first half, four Olsen charity tosses bookended a 10-0 run over a 3:41 window that vaulted the Lancers to a 17-6 advantage.
The Lancers continued to play at their own pace and with Olsen and Vasciunaite having their way, they pushed the lead to 27-13 at the 4:33 mark. Two Vasciunaite free throws gave the Lancers their largest lead of the evening.
However, the Mustangs had an answer this time and turned things around in the final four minutes of the half. Down by that 14-point margin, the Mustangs got a three-ball from Scott, her second of the period, igniting a 10-0 burst over a three-minute window. Freshman Lindsey Levanen contributed a three-point play and senior guard Erica Inge contributed four free throws as the Mustangs sliced the deficit to four points (27-23).
But, the Lancers turned to Olsen for two more free throws (a jaw-dropping 12-12 in the first half) and when Chynna Burwell buried a jumper with a tick left on the clock, the visitors took a 31-25 lead into the break.
The Mustangs were fortunate to be down by only six at the half, shooting just 33% from the field, but Cal Baptist helped by converting only 24% of their attempts. Inge and Scott paced the Mustangs in scoring over the opening 20 minutes, tallying nine and eight points, respectively.
Coming out of intermission, the Mustangs halved the deficit on an Ella Joines' three-pointer, but a pair of Vasciunaite triples boosted the Lancer lead to 38-30. A Theresa Brown three-point play carved into the lead but a 6-0 Lancer run, capped by a S. J. Simons trey, pushed the lead back into double figures (44-33) at the 15:42 mark.
The Lancer lead hovered around the 10-point mark for the next three minutes until a quick, 5-0 spurt, all of the points coming from Olsen, extended the advantage to 55-42. Still, the Mustangs did not go quietly.
Trailing 61-50 with 8:37 remaining, Scott's three pointer and a pair of Inge free throws in a 33-second span made it a six-point game with just over eight minutes left. The Lancers responded with a 4-1 spurt to go up 65-56 but, once again, the Scott/Inge duo answered back as the former buried another trifecta and the latter scored on a layup to close the deficit to 65-61 with 2:36 left to play.
But, the Lancers put the ball in the hands of Vasciunaite once more and she took her team the rest of the way as the visitors pulled away in the final 90 seconds. She started with two more free throws, teammate Brenna Hahn converted two charity tosses, and Vasciunaite closed things out by making three more shots from the line in the final minute.
Olsen, who wound up 13-13 from the line, led all scorers with 21 points while Vasciunaite, finishing 12-15 from the stripe, had 18 more. The Lancers nearly doubled their field goal accuracy in the second half, shooting 46%, and finishing at 34% for the game.
Inge paced the Mustangs with 20 points and distributed a game-best seven assists. Scott was sensational from behind the arc, pouring in 4-5 attempts, on the way to 18 points.
With no hope of reaching a four seed in the GSAC Tournament, the Mustangs now turn their attention to finishing as high as they can and they have two games left in the regular season in which to do it. The first of those comes up on Tuesday evening when the club welcomes the GSAC's top team, Azusa Pacific, to Bross Gym for a 5:30 start.