November 10, 2015
Santa Clarita, CA -- It's not surprising in a thrilling, up-and-down contest that the outcome would be decided on the final possession.
When it did, The Master's College just couldn't convert and visiting La Sierra escaped Bross Court with a 90-88 victory Tuesday evening.
The Mustangs (1-1) had a chance to win or take the game to overtime after rallying from a 90-85 deficit in the final minute. Delewis Johnson (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) nailed a three-pointer with 44 seconds left to pull the Mustangs within two but a huge offensive rebound on the Golden Eagles' next possession drained more time off the clock, forcing the Mustangs to foul to get the visitors to the line.
Once there, Nicholas Culver missed and the Mustangs had their opportunity. However, sophomore guard JP Webster (Vallejo, CA) couldn't get off a good shot as the clock ticked to zero, leaving a disappointed group of Mustangs pondering what could have been.
That kind of thinking was validated by the play of both squads during a very enjoyable 40 minutes of basketball that featured fast-paced play, fine shooting, and 13 lead changes.
No more than six points separated the clubs during the open 20 minutes. The first of those leads (18-12) was forged by the Mustangs when they used a Reid Shackelford (Murrieta, CA) three-point play to spark an 11-2 burst in a three-minute window that Keegan Scott (Spirit Lake, ID) capped with a three-pointer.
The explosive Eagles closed quickly but couldn't catch the Mustangs until they went on a 10-3 run in a three-minute span to regain the lead at 36-34 on a Gerald Williams' three-pointer with 4:54 left in the opening half.
Over the next two minutes, the clubs manufactured four ties until an Andre Marquez layup gave the Golden Eagles a lead they would keep into the second half. They enjoyed their largest lead (51-45) on a Culver layup with 16 seconds left in the stanza and they went to the break up 51-47.
Over the first 20 minutes, the Mustangs shot a solid 55% (17-31) from the field while the Golden Eagles converted at a 48% clip.
Both clubs' accuracy would go down in the second half but you couldn't tell with the up-tempo pace that produced open shots. The Eagles' demonstrated that coming out of halftime, ripping off the first five points to take the game's largest, lead 56-47.
Just when it looked like the visitors were about to run away and hide, the Mustangs changed the momentum on a couple of possessions and roared back with a 12-2 skein that vaulted them ahead 59-58. A Kaleb Anderson (Clovis, CA) tip-in keyed the run, Johnson contributed a couple of buckets, and Philip Webb closed it out with a jumper at the 15:32 mark.
The Eagles snapped the skein and regained the lead on a breakaway dunk but an Anderson dunk at the other end handed the lead back to the Mustangs, who held it for the next six minutes. A Shackelford trey, his fourth and final one of the evening, pushed the advantage to 73-68 with just under 10 minutes left to play.
However, the Eagles rallied once again, using an 11-2 spurt in just under two minutes to go back in front 79-75 on a Culver three-pointer with 7:29 left in the game.
Just as quickly, though, the Mustangs responded as they had earlier in the half. In just over a minute, a Harrison White (Winston-Salem, NC) jumper, a Johnson three-point play, and a Webb free throw erased the deficit to put the Mustangs back in front, 81-79.
In a contest of quick momentum changes, though, the Golden Eagles forced the most decisive one, answering the Mustang challenge with a game-changing 7-0 skein from which TMC never fully recovered. The 86-81 lead was the first of two five-point leads the visitors held in the final three minutes, the latter (90-85) of which the Mustangs couldn't close completely in the waning seconds.
Although disappointed with the end result, the club was encouraged with five players in double figures, led by Johnson's 21 points on 7-14 shooting. Webb was hard to stop inside, tallying 20 points and notching his first collegiate double-double with a game-high 13 rebounds. Shackelford went 4-7 from behind the arc en route to 17 points, Anderson had 14 more to go along with seven rebounds, and White recorded a double-double, too, with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
After playing their first four contests (two exhibitions and two regular-season games) at home, the Mustangs head out on the road for the initial time this weekend, traveling to Northern California where they'll play in the Markie Cosca Memorial Tournament at Cal Maritime in Vallejo. On Friday evening, they'll take on the host Keelhaulers and then close out their brief road trip against Simpson on Saturday.