December 19, 2017
Winter is just two days away, but The Master's University men's basketball team shot like it was the middle of summer Tuesday afternoon, outscoring 17th-ranked Montana Western 108-95 to complete a three-game sweep at the Cactus Classic at Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Arizona.
"This was a really good trip for us," said coach Kelvin Starr. "Three wins against three quality teams in three days. Montana Western is a very well-coached team. This was a key win for our program against a nationally-ranked team."
Topping the century mark for the fifth time in 13 games, the No. 5 Mustangs won their 11th game in a row to improve to 12-1.
Held to a season-low 63 points on Sunday in a win over Baker of Kansas, the Mustangs almost equaled that point total in a 57-point first half.
Buoyed by a quartet of 3-pointers, including three in a row in less than two minutes, the Mustangs raced to a 20-10 lead with 13:39 remaining in the opening half.
The offense continued to click on all cylinders as TMU ripped off a 10-2 run to double its lead over the Bulldogs to 34-17 at the 9:40 mark. Travis Yenor's trey ignited the burst, Darryl McDowell-White quickly followed with another trifecta, and two Lawrence Russell charity tosses capped it off.
The Mustangs hit eight from behind the arc in the opening half.
McDowell-White, who went 5-for-6 from long range en route to a career-high 23 points, buried his second 3-pointer with four minutes left and the Mustangs had their largest lead of the half, 51-33.
Any thoughts of cruising to victory, though, went out the door when Montana Western closed the half with a 13-4 burst to pull within 57-50 at the break.
The Mustangs shot 49% from the field in the opening stanza.
There was more where that came from over the final 20 minutes as the Mustangs improved their accuracy and pulled away for the win.
It just didn't happen right away.
The Bulldogs made it a one-point game on a Brandon Jones' free throw with 16:03 remaining.
Russell quickly restored order for his club, sandwiching a couple of buckets, including a 3-pointer, around a Tim Soares' basket to extend the lead to 73-64.
When the Bulldogs got within 75-70 at the 11:12 mark, Russell and Soares combined for five straight points for a double-digit margin.
McDowell-White followed with two more 3-pointers to keep the Bulldogs at bay, and when Montana Western made a final push to get within 93-89 with 4:44 left, the sophomore transfer supplied the dagger 15 seconds later with his last trey of the day.
The Bulldogs never got closer than six points the rest of the way.
McDowell-White's team-high point total came in just 17 minutes of action. Soares complemented him with 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting.
Russell added 19 points and four assists, while Brock Gardner tossed in 14 more and equaled his day-old career rebounding high with 14 more boards. He also dished out a team-best six assists. Hansel Atencia completed the quintet of Mustangs in double figures, scoring 11 points and handing out five assists.
Like it or not, the Mustangs will now park their high-octane offense for a ten-day Christmas break before cranking it back up again on December 29 when they face the University of Antelope Valley in the Tom Byron Classic at Westmont.