March 14, 2016
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- Before The Master's University men's basketball team takes on Benedictine (KS) on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. (PDT) in the first round of the 80th Annual Division I Men's Basketball National Championship at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri, here's all you need to know about the Mustangs...
TEAM...The Mustangs are making their first NAIA Tournament appearance since the 1999-2000 season after winning the GSAC Tournament championship for the first time in school history…boasting a 26-4 record, the Mustangs are in the midst of a remarkable turnaround, winning 22 more games than they did in 2015-16…after debuting at No. 21 in January, the Mustangs finished at No. 8 in the final NAIA Top 25 poll …the Mustangs were sixth in the nation in scoring (87.7ppg) and defensive rebounds (30.5rpg), and ninth in field goal percentage (48.8%).
INDIVIDUALS...All-GSAC senior guard Reid Shackelford (Murrieta, CA) leads the Mustangs in scoring and finished second in the conference at 16.9ppg…the sharpshooter drained a school-record 10 three-pointers vs. Embry-Riddle (AZ) on 11/11/16 en route to a career-high 51 points …his 93 three-pointers were No. 2 in the conference and represent the fifth-best single-season mark in program history…had the second-highest free throw percentage (85.4%) mark in the GSAC, the 10th-best single-season mark in school history.
All-GSAC junior guard and conference defensive player of the year Lawrence Russell (Port Townsend, WA) may have been the club’s top all-around performer, putting up strong lines on a consistent basis…averaged 14.9ppg…paced the club and the GSAC in minutes played (just under 36 mpg)…led the Mustangs in rebounding (8 rpg, second in the GSAC) and steals (1.9spg, second in the GSAC)…scored a season-high 24 points vs. Vanguard on 2/25/17 and pulled down a season-best 15 rebounds vs. Arizona Christian in the GSAC Tournament on 3/3/17…notched a team-best 11 double-doubles.
Sophomore guard Delewis Johnson (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) developed into one of the conference’s top sixth men, averaging 11.8ppg…finished second on the club in field goal percentage (57.2%) and was fourth in the GSAC…tallied a career-high 26 points vs. Humboldt State on 1/9/17.
In addition, the Mustangs received outstanding play from sophomore transfer Hansel Atencia (Bucaramanga, Colombia), and freshmen Travis Yenor (Meridian, ID) and Timothy Soares (Everson, WA)…Hansel averaged 12.1ppg, led the team and was second in assists in the GSAC (3.9apg), and had the best assist/turnover ratio (1.9) in the conference…Yenor made a smooth transition to the college game and became a potent offensive threat, averaging 11ppg and finishing second on the squad with 57 three-pointers (fifth-best in the GSAC)…Soares showed flashes as a dominant post player, averaging 8.2ppg and 6.3 rebounds a game (sixth in the GSAC)...paced the team in field goal percentage (61.8%, second in the GSAC) and blocked shots (1.6bpg, second in the GSAC).
COACHING...First-year head coach Kelvin Starr led the Mustangs to a jaw-dropping turnaround, taking the club from four wins in 2015-16 to 26 victories on the eve of the national tournament.
FOLLOW TMU...The first 30 games of the national championship will be video-streamed live at www.NAIANetwork.com, the NAIA’s official video-streaming platform powered by Stretch Internet. The championship final will air on ESPN3 for the fourth-straight season on Tuesday, March 21 at 7:00 p.m. Live stats can be found here.