Byrd, Mustangs Down Hawks

January 17, 2015

Santa Clarita, Calif. -- On an evening when something had to give, Russell Byrd had plenty to give as The Master's College defeated visiting San Diego Christian 79-62 for its first GSAC victory of the season.

Byrd, the 6-7 senior transfer, torched the Hawks for 32 points and helped the Mustangs snap a two-game losing streak that improved them to 6-10 overall and 1-5 in the conference.

With both teams entering the contest winless in the GSAC, not much separated them in the game's first five minutes.  However, that changed for good when Korey Anderson (Clovis, CA) ignited a game-changing 9-0 burst with a layup at the 16:33 mark.  A little less than three minutes later (13:42), Byrd capped off the run with a layup, vaulting the Mustangs into a 12-7 advantage.  In between, Chris Patureau (Houston, TX) tied the game with a layup and a Reid Shackelford (Murrieta, CA) three-pointer put the Mustangs ahead to stay.

It took a while for the Mustangs to create a comfort zone, doing so first with 8:56 left in the half when Byrd's second three-pointer made it a 23-14 game.  Then, in the last four minutes of the stanza, the Mustangs started to pull away.  Up 29-25, the club turned to the Patureau-Byrd duo which combined to score eight of the club's last 11 points leading up to halftime.  Patureau's layup ignited the 11-3 burst and capped it off with another layup just six seconds shy of intermission.  Byrd added four points and Harrison White (Winston-Salem, NC) drained a three-pointer as the Mustangs took a 40-28 advantage into the break.

Byrd's 19 points paced all scorers at halftime and fueled a 55% (17-31) shooting performance by the Mustangs from the field.  Defense was part of the equation, too, as the club stymied the Hawks to the tune of 36% accuracy.

There was little movement in both percentages over the final 20 minutes, yet the Mustangs couldn't shake the pesky Hawks.  At first, it looked like they might when an Anderson three-point play just over a minute (18:52) into the second stanza handed the Mustangs their largest lead to that point, 45-32.

They wouldn't score again, though, over the next five minutes while the Hawks sliced the deficit to 45-40 on two Peter Beale-Wirsing charity tosses with 14:19 left in the game.  A Byrd jumper at the 13:52 mark snapped the scoreless drought and sparked a quick, 6-0 run that moved the advantage back into double figures, 51-40.  Four Anderson free throws highlighted the skein.

Even that didn't do away with the Hawks completely, however, as the visitors used a 10-4 run to get within five points (55-50) once again, this time with 8:59 remaining.

That's when Byrd took over one more time and this would be in decisive fashion.  Sandwiching a couple of three-pointers around a layup, Byrd delivered eight straight points and when Patureau added a layup with 5:34 left in the game, a 10-0 burst had moved the Mustangs ahead 65-50.

The Hawks would get no closer than nine points (67-58) after that and even that provoked a response as the Mustangs closed out the game on a 12-4 run that produced the game's largest margin and the final score.  A Shackelford three-pointer keyed the burst and he added four free throws for good measure.

The Mustangs finished off a solid shooting display, hitting just under 55% (12-22) in the second half and finishing at that mark for the game, their third-best showing of the season.

Byrd's game-high 32 points, his second-highest output of the season, were just part of another outstanding all-round effort that included a 4-6 showing from behind the arc, eight rebounds, five assists, and four steals.

Anderson was a great complement, adding 16 points while Shackelford and Patureau went for 12 apiece.  White may have played his best game of the season, collecting a game-high nine rebounds to go with seven points.

Next up for the Mustangs is a big test at No. 2 Hope International Tuesday evening in Fullerton.  The Royals suffered their first loss of the season earlier this evening, falling to 15th-ranked Concordia 71-66.