Ella Joines and Whitney Best combined for 27 points and The Master’s College overcame a poor second half en route to a 70-57 victory over Ecclesia of Arkansas Friday afternoon in Bross Gym.
The victory was the Mustangs’ second in a row and improved their record to 4-3.
Joines scored 11 of her game-high 14 points during a strong first half when the Mustangs forged a 40-25 lead. Six of those points came from behind the arc, including three that gave the Mustangs an early lead (3-0). Her layup at the 17:42 mark tied the game at five-all and sparked a 5-0 spurt that put the Mustangs ahead to stay, 8-5.
Even after building a 14-7 edge on a Joines’ layup with 13:59 left half, the Mustangs couldn’t shake the pesky Royals, who rallied to within one (14-13) on a 6-0 skein. But, that run seemed to get he Mustangs’ attention as they responded with a 15-3 burst over a five-minute window to build a 29-16 cushion.
Freshman Millie Rivera sparked the run with a layup, Best drained a three-ball, Lena Rivera added six straight points, and Morgan Schwegler capped it off with a layup.
The Royals never got closer the rest of the half and when the Mustangs outscored the visitors 9-4 over the final 3:44, they took a 40-25 advantage to the break. Over the opening 20 minutes, the Mustangs shot just under 46%.
The second half wasn’t nearly as enjoyable in spite of the first six minutes when the Mustangs expanded their lead to a game-best 19 points (51-32). A Best trifecta, a Kimmy Iverson layup, and two Zoe Scott free throws gave the Mustangs a nice cushion with 13:56 remaining in the game.
But, over the next six minutes, the club seemed to go to sleep on a post-Thanksgiving snooze, letting the advantage dwindle to 55-45 with 7:37 left to play. Contributing to the Royal surge were nine missed shots and five turnovers by the Mustangs.
Lauren Labat and Lena Rivera halted the run with consecutive baskets and the Mustangs weren’t seriously threatened the rest of the way.
Best, who tallied 13 points, and Joines were the only Mustangs to score in double figures. Schwegler chipped in with a game-high nine rebounds.
There won’t be much time for the Mustangs to enjoy their victory as they turn around on Saturday to host No. 11 Southern Nazarene of Oklahoma in a 2:00pm start in Bross Gym.