Fueling the Fire

February 2, 2013

Box Score:

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – About a year ago to the day, the Lady Mustangs were staring at a 10-14 overall record, and trying to figure out a way to salvage their 3-9 conference record.

They seem to have succeeded.

After their 93-49 shellacking of the Arizona Christian Firestorm Saturday night in Bross Gym, the No. 9 nationally ranked Lady Mustangs now carry a newly-minted 20-2 overall record.  Within the last two weeks, those two losses came by conference opponents Vanguard (4th in the NAIA), and Westmont (8th in the NAIA).

The win advances The Master’s College to a 6-2 GSAC record, and puts them in a solid third place of the conference.  Needless to say, the 2013 Lady Mustangs are a far cry from the squad that placed 8th in the Golden State Athletic Conference a year ago.

The drastic turnaround of records forces a resounding question of “What’s different this year than last year?”  The answer can be best summed up in one word: Leadership.

Take senior guard Kimberly Iverson (San Clemente, CA) for example.  In Saturday’s match against the Firestorm, Iverson led all scorers with 19 points, 15 of which came from behind the arc (5-11).  On a national level, Iverson ranks 11th in the NAIA in three-pointer percentage (0.4190), 24th in the NAIA in total three-pointers made (49), and 26th in the NAIA in three-pointers made per game (2.333).

But Iverson’s leadership reaches beyond the scoreboard.  Illustrating the importance of leadership, Iverson encourages team unity and demonstrates the total commitment and diligence necessary for success.  In a recent interview, Iverson commented that the difference between this year’s team and last year’s is that this year’s squad understands that team success is “something so much bigger than ourselves.”

Another contribution to the Lady Mustangs’ success lies largely in the solid recruiting done in the most recent offseason.  Jacquelyn Masrshall (San Clemente, CA), who transferred to The Master’s College after a two-year stint at U.C. Irvine, stands testament to that as the junior forward went 8-10 on total field goals putting up 17 points along the way, and led the Mustangs with seven rebounds and two blocks Saturday night against the Firestorm.  Marshall’s defensive expertise speaks for itself as she currently ranks 14th in the NAIA in total blocks (38), and 15th the NAIA in blocks per game (1.810).

And how about senior guard Lena Rivera (Allen, TX)?  In Saturday’s GSAC showdown, Rivera led all players with four steals.  Saturday was no fluke as Rivera currently ranks 17th in the NAIA in steals per game (2.857), and 19th in the NAIA in total steals with 60. Not to stand in her shadow is younger sister Millie Rivera who posted 13 points in Saturday’s match.

While the last three Lady Mustang leaders are upper classmen, excellence can be found on the greener side of the roster as sophomore Whitney Best (Snohomish, WA) led TMC Saturday night with four assists.  Best currently places 27th in the NAIA in assists, by averaging 4.286 per game.

If anything, the Lady Mustangs have demonstrated an evident cohesiveness and camaraderie during their 2013 campaign that cannot be taught during practice.  A small glimpse of their evident teamwork can be seen by all active players posting points in the 93-49 routing of GSAC newcomer Arizona Christian.  At one point, the Lady Mustangs enjoyed a 49 point lead over the Firestorm.  Collectively, the Mustangs finished Saturday with a 40.7% accuracy.

The Lady Mustangs now look to continue their drastic turnaround Tuesday in a 5:30 PM road match against conference opponent Concordia (5-16, 3-5 GSAC). The last time the two teams squared off, TMC took the Eagles in a 78-67 victory.

And while Saturday’s victory leaves head coach Dan Waldeck and his Lady Mustangs “cautiously optimistic” for the remaining seven games of their regular season, the squad cannot let their confidence get the better of themselves as the GSAC is still for the taking by the seven other conference teams.

GSAC Women’s Basketball News:

In other GSAC action, Hope International took down Concordia 70-61, San Diego Christian fell to No. 8 Westmont 75-57, and No. 4 Vanguard edged Biola 72-61.