A Win In The Holiday Spirit

Showing no rust from an 18-day layoff, The Master’s College women’s basketball team bolted to an 18-point first-half lead and rolled to a 73-65 win over Hastings of Nebraska on the first day of the Biola Holiday Classic in La Mirada.

The victory over the NAIA Division II No. 8 Broncos kept the Mustangs over .500 as they improved to 7-5.

Playing for the first time since December 10, a 60-47 loss to Biola, the Mustangs started fast and never trailed.  Senior wing Ella Joines got things going with a three-pointer 19 seconds into play and sophomore Zoe Scott buried a jumper less than a minute later for a 5-2 lead.

Hastings’ Alicia Statler answered with a bucket, closing the deficit to one point but then the Mustangs took off, creating some separation with a 6-0 run that Joines triggered with a pair of free throws and senior Morgan Schwegler capped with a jumper at the 15:31 mark for an 11-4 lead.

Bronco Brittney Wong snapped the skein with a basket but all that proved to be was a finger in the dike as the Mustangs outscored Hastings 11-2 in a five-minute window to take a commanding 22-8.  Scott fueled the burst with a three-pointer and sophomore Kaylynn Martin’s three-point play with 9:52 left in the opening half capped it off.

However, the Mustangs weren’t satisfied.  Over the next couple of minutes, the lead ballooned to 14 points twice and when Lena Rivera sank a pair of jumpers, the Mustang advantage lengthened to 32-16.

In the final four minutes of the half, the Mustangs kept up the defensive pressure, extending the margin to a half-best 18 points on three occasions, including the 41-23 halftime score after a Kristen Huff jumper with 38 ticks left on the clock.

That aforementioned Mustang defense resulted in eight Bronco turnovers and 28% shooting during the first 20 minutes.  Led by 10 points (5-6 from the field) from Schwegler and eight more by Joines, the Mustangs shot at a 55% clip.

Coming out of the break, Schwegler converted a pair of free throws to give the Mustangs their largest lead (43-23) of the game before the Broncos made their first move of the contest.  Statler’s jumper with 19:29 left keyed a 7-0 spurt, slicing the deficit to 43-30 at the 18:08 mark.

But, the Mustangs calmly retaliated, scoring six straight points to move ahead 49-30 with 16:16 remaining.  Schwegler was the major player in the spurt, sandwiching a pair of buckets around a Lena Rivera basket as the Mustangs quickly rebuffed the Broncos.

They appeared to be very much in control almost five minutes later, enjoying a 56-38 cushion on another Scott trifecta.  However, that ease didn’t last very long as the Broncos ripped off 11 straight points in a 3:22 window, pulling to within 56-49 on a Wong layup with 7:39 left on the clock.

Rocked by the Bronco skein, the Mustangs stayed resilient, countering with an 8-2 spurt for a 64-51 advantage with 5:08 remaining.  Kimmy Iverson ignited things with a pair of free tosses, Schwegler added another free throw, Scott drained another three-ball, and Huff finished things off with a jumper.

The Broncos did make one more surge, but this time it would be far too late.  The Mustangs’ lead stayed in double digits until there were less than two minutes remaining when Frankie Peterson’s jumper started a 7-0 run that drew the Broncos to within 69-65 with 46 seconds left to play.

But, the desperate Broncos had to foul and when they did the Mustangs made them pay.  Lena Rivera hit four free throws down the stretch to finish off the win.

Schwegler led all scorers with a career-high 19 points while Scott added 13 more.  Rivera had 10 points to go with a team-best eight rebounds.

The Mustangs will attempt to make it two in a row on Thursday when they tangle with Kansas Wesleyan on day two of the Biola event.   This game will be played at Hope International in Fullerton and will tip off at 3:00pm.