Brittany Daniel poured in a game-high 25 points and Jermani Stewart notched a double-double to lead San Diego Christian past The Master’s College 67-62 Saturday evening in El Cajon.
The loss in the Mustangs’ GSAC opener dropped them to 5-4 overall.
Leading only once in the game, the Mustangs had no answer for the Hawks’ inside-outside tandem as Daniel went 9-16 from the field while Stewart tallied 15 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.
That lone Mustang advantage (3-2) came with 18:33 left in the first half when freshman point guard Whitney Best drained a three-pointer. But, that lead lasted all of 19 seconds as Stewart countered with a go-ahead layup, sparking a 6-0 Hawk run.
TMC’s Ella Joines responded with a three-ball to close the gap to two points but the Hawks bounced back with a 5-0 spurt to take a 13-6 lead at the 13:18 mark of the half.
The dueling spurts continued when Joines canned another trifecta 90 seconds later and when Kimmy Iverson duplicated that 10 seconds later, the Mustangs had pulled within one point.
However, Daniel did something about that. Scoring four straight points, she triggered a 6-0 run that lengthened the Hawk lead to 21-14 with just over 10 minutes left in the half.
Now, it was the Mustangs’ turn and they outscored the Hawks 5-1 over a two-minute window to close to 22-19. Millie Rivera sparked the run with a layup, Morgan Schwegler added a basket, and Lauren Labat hit a free throw.
That didn’t faze the Hawks, though, as Stewart, who scored 10 first-half points, answered with a layup to fuel a 10-2 skein that gave the hosts their largest lead of the period, 32-21. Stewart got help from Jasmin Thomas, who contributed five points to spurt.
The Mustangs made one more run as the half neared its completion when Joines drained a three-pointer and Best added a layup to make it a six-point game (32-26) but the Hawks duplicated that, highlighted by a Steward three-point play that sent them to the locker room up 37-26.
Neither club shot very well over the opening 20 minutes with the Hawks outshooting the Mustangs 41%-36%, but it was the Stewart-Daniel combo that made the difference as they combined for 18 points (Stewart 10, Daniel 8).
As good as Stewart was in the first half, Daniel was even better in the second, although it took some time for her to get going. But, she had plenty of support in Brittany Robinson, who tossed in a three-ball a little over a minute into the second half to increase the Hawk lead to 40-26.
True to game form, the Mustangs rallied. Spurred by a pair of Zoe Scott charity tosses, the Mustangs reeled off 10 of the game’s next 11 points, pulling to within 41-36 on a Joines trey with 13:18 left to play. In between, Kristen Huff added four points and Lena Rivera tallied a free throw.
But, Stewart answered with a bucket, Daniel scored five straight points and the Hawk lead reached 48-39 just over a minute later.
However, the Mustangs weren’t about to go away. Down by nine points (53-44) with 9:24 remaining, the Mustangs clamped down on defense and made big shots at the other end, outscoring the Hawks 10-1 in a 4½-minute window to knot the score at 54.
Best got it going with a jumper, Lindsey Levanen scored on a layup, Schwegler added a free throw, Lena Rivera chipped in with a layup, and Scott capped off the run with a three-pointer at the 4:46 mark.
But, just when the Hawks needed a boost, they got it from Daniel. She snapped the deadlock with a layup and then added another one for a 58-54 lead with 4:01 left. The Hawks never trailed again.
The Mustangs tried to do something about that when Scott drilled a three-pointer, pulling the Mustangs within one point (58-57) and Best duplicated that at the two-minute mark, closing the deficit to 63-62.
However, the Mustangs failed to score another point and the Hawks put the game away at the line, highlighted by two free throws from Stewart.
Daniel was sensational in the second half, scoring 17 points of her game-high total, going 7-12 from the field.
Joines paced the Mustangs with 14 points while Best and Scott added 13 apiece. Scott was electric in the second half, tallying all of her points on 4-7 shooting, including a trio of three-pointers. Schwegler yanked down a team-high nine rebounds to go with seven points.
After a couple of days off, the Mustangs jump back into action on Tuesday night when they host Cal State San Marcos in a 5:30pm start in Bross Gym.