No Hope For Royals In Return Engagement

Ella Joines and Morgan Schwegler combined for 24 points off the bench and The Master’s College put the game away with an early second-half run en route to a 76-59 thumping of visiting Hope International Saturday evening in Bross Gym.

The decisive victory snapped a three-game losing skein for the Mustangs and avenged a 73-64 loss at the hands of the Royals on January 7.  The Mustangs improved to 10-14 overall and 3-9 in the GSAC.

Posting their second straight strong effort off the bench, Joines and Schwegler each scored a team-high 12 points and were part of the 20-3 burst over the first eight minutes of the second half that turned a close game into a romp.

After a Morgan Rentie layup drew the Royals to within 29-27 with 18:40 left to play, the Mustangs tallied 11 consecutive points to lengthen their advantage and when Joines cast in a three-pointer at the 11:42 mark, the Mustangs moved out to a 49-30 advantage.  Lena Rivera fueled the run with a jumper and Kimmy Iverson added seven points along the way.

A Zoe Scott trifecta just over two minutes later gave the Mustangs their first 20-point lead (54-33) of the evening, a margin they would enjoy for the next three minutes.  Their largest lead came at 58-36 on a Kaylynn Martin three-pointer with 7:31 showing on the clock and was equaled (60-38) on a Lauren Labat layup less than a minute later.

Although the game was in the bag, the Mustangs continued to play aggressively at both ends, hungry for their first win in two weeks.  Down the stretch, the Royals could get no closer than 15 points as Joines scored six of her game-high total in the closing minutes.

As much as the second half developed into a blowout, the first half was nip-and-tuck except for a one-minute stretch toward the end of the period.  With the exception of a pair of ties, the Mustangs led vthe entire way but couldn’t shrug off the pesky and outmanned Royals.

Lena Rivera scored three points as the Mustangs galloped out of the gate to a 5-0 lead.  The Royals, who went scoreless during the first three minutes, answered with a 6-1 run to knot the score.  The game was tied at eight with 14:33 left in the half and remained that way until jumpers by Martin and Schwegler unlocked the tie (12-8) and put the Mustangs ahead to stay.

Still, they just couldn’t shake the Royals who sliced the deficit to 15-14 on a Destiny Chavez jumper with 8:55 showing on the clock.  That was done during an offensive drought by the Mustangs who went over 3½ minutes without a point until a Lindsey Levanan free throw at the 7:31 mark not only gave the Mustangs a two-point lead but keyed a 10-2 spurt in which she scored eight of the points.

That propelled the Mustangs to their largest lead (25-16) of the period but it didn’t last very long as the Royals closed the half on a 9-4 run, closing to 29-25 at the break.

Schwegler not only tied Joines for team-high scoring honors, she also yanked down a game-high 10 rebounds, notching her first double-double of the campaign.  Levanen and Scott tossed in ten points apiece and contributed to the Mustangs’ 60-44 edge on the board with seven and six rebounds, respectively.

The Mustangs hope to make it two wins in a row for the first time since November and catch eighth-place Concordia when the Eagles come to Bross Gym on Tuesday evening at 5:30pm.  Currently, the Eagles are a game ahead of the Mustangs in the chase for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference that qualifies for a berth in the GSAC Tournament at the end of the month.