March 11, 2014
COSTA MESA, Calif. – Bottom line, the GSAC Tournament Championship game featuring The Master’s College women’s basketball team, the tournament's second seeded team, and Hope International, the fourth seeded team, was a battle.
But, what would you expect when two of the country’s Top 20 teams are playing for an automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament?
And while the seventh-Ranked Lady Mustangs did fall to the 17th ranked Hope International Royals 59-64 in Costa Mesa, there’s still plenty to be optimistic about.
Just ask Lady Mustang head coach Dan Waldeck.
“It was tough loss….we knew that we'd need to play our best game, but we didn't. We got a ton of great looks that we couldn't knock down, and to only get seven free throws crippled our ability to score. Our defense was great, as we did a great job of keeping them out of the lane, but that led to long shots and long rebounds that we never adjusted to. Our team is built to win at the national tournament- where depth is valued and team play is rewarded. We will be ready for Frankfort.”
The evening opened up with Jacquelyn Marshall (San Clemente, CA) posting TMC’s only lead (2 points) nine seconds in to play. From there, the Lady Mustangs played catch-up for the rest of the night.
And while a Marshall layup at the 13:32 mark did tie things at 14-14 in the first half, the Lady Mustangs had a hard time getting things going for the rest of the evening.
At the half, Marshall led TMC in scoring with 9 points while Megan Lindsley (Vancouver, WA) followed with 8 more. Marshall also yanked down 7 rebounds while Scott chipped in 3 assists.
Attesting to their first half woes, TMC went 13-31 from the field, 1-7 behind the arc, and 4-7 from the free throw line.
After the break, a glimmer of hope broke for the Mustangs when Marshall cut Hope’s lead to two points (45-47) off a layup at the 12:57 mark. Four minutes later at the 8:55 mark, Marshall again cut the Royal’s advantage to two points (47-49) by posting another timely jumper.
Unfortunately, the Royals reeled off a 10-2 run which brought the score to 59-49 with 1:26 left to play. And while TMC did post a valiant effort in the waning moments of the game, time ran out 13 seconds after Nicole Nitake (Torrance, CA) drained a three-pointer, bringing the final score to 59-64.
Marshall bagged her typical double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Lindsley followed in scoring by posting 16 points, while Kelly Burns (Yorba Linda, CA) and Whitney Best (Snohomish, WA) each scored 6 more.
As a team, the Lady Mustangs finished the night by going 25-63 (39%) from the field, 5-24 (20%) on three-pointers, and 4-7 (57%) behind the charity stripe.
Despite the loss bringing the Lady Mustangs’ record to 24-8, the squad still remains hopeful to continue a strong postseason run.
Based off its No. 7 national ranking, the Lady Mustangs are eyeing a favorable seed at next week’s NAIA National tournament, based in Frankfurt, Kentucky. Tomorrow (Wednesday), the Thirty-two team field will be announced at 4:00 PM (PST).
Last year, TMC finished third in the Golden State Athletic Conference and earned a No. 12 postseason ranking in the NAIA. A 25-5 regular season record qualified the Lady Mustangs for the 33rd annual NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Tournament where they were knocked out in the first round by Carroll College of Montana.
Looking to right the ship this year, the Lady Mustangs enter into the tournament with a healthy squad, determination to win, and a lot of hope.