November 17, 2018
As The Master’s University men’s basketball players trudged back to the locker room at the University of Antelope Valley, they heard it. As they packed their bags for the bus ride home, they heard it, too.
They didn’t like the loss. They also didn’t like the sound of celebration that reverberated through the following two weeks of practice leading up to Friday night’s successful bounce-back effort, an 83-62 win over Antelope Valley on Bross Court.
“As soon as we lost, we heard them yelling,” said Mustang senior Lawrence Russell of his team’s 87-84 loss on Nov. 3. “… We were just mad the whole ride home. Just to come out and get another chance to show what we can do when we’re at our best was great.”
Before the season, the Mustangs (4-1) talked about being defined by defense. They weren’t in their first meeting with the Pioneers, allowing a late 13-2 run and a season-worst 87 points
Friday was freakishly different. Master’s held the Pioneers to 16% shooting in the first half and 23% for the game. The Mustangs led 10-0 after three minutes and 25-9 after 12.
“All of our motivation came from our loss last time,” said center Tim Soares. “This whole past two weeks, all we could talk about was them.”
Soares neared a double double with nine points and 15 rebounds. On one first-half play, he knocked over a defender, paused and – when no foul was called – slammed the ball through the rim. TMU outscored Antelope Valley 38-12 in the paint and won the rebound battle 57-38.
Russell scored 19 points with seven boards and three steals. He also made two seismic blocks to lead a defense that forced 18 turnovers.
The only downer on a night the Mustangs led 42-29 at half and by as many as 27 after the break might have been TMU’s own giveaways.
The Mustangs turned it over 24 times. But it mattered little as the Pioneers shot 4-of-29 behind the arc. They knocked down 8-of-19 on threes in the teams’ first meeting.
“I think when we hold any team to under 30 percent shooting, I mean, that’s great,” Russell said. “We can still clean up some little things. But the year is still young.”
To be exact, the Mustangs are five games into the year now, and the last three have been particularly impressive.
Master’s has won by an average of 42 points.
Friday, that had more to do with the defense than the “O.” But the Mustangs don’t really have a problem with that.
Brock Gardner and Travis Yenor each added 11 points for the Mustangs, who play Life Pacific at home on Saturday evening at 6.