January 6, 2018
At some point early in No. 5 TMU’s 97-89 win over No. 22 William Jessup on Saturday, former Master’s staffer Paul Berry sauntered past the scorer’s table and preached the benefits of not always winning by 20.
If tight wins are good for a promising season, then Lawrence Russell is good for tight wins.
The Mustang senior scored a career-high 32 points to lift Master’s out of an 11-point second-half deficit and into its 15th straight win.
Russell mixed outside precision with inside strength. He made 11 of 21 shots, drilling five threes and powering to the rim with regularity.
What did he do well Saturday?
“Everything,” said coach Kelvin Starr. “He refused to let us lose.”
Said Russell, “I was just being aggressive and going downhill. They let me get to the basket so I was just doing it over and over again.”
Brock Gardner pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds to go with 12 points and four assists for TMU, which moved to 2-0 in Golden State Athletic Conference play.
Jessup (14-4, 0-2) didn’t make it easy. The Warriors entered the day leading the NAIA in offensive rebounds, and they showed that level of physicality throughout a game they led by one at halftime.
In fact, Jessup built a 70-59 lead near the 12-minute mark in the second half, but Master’s went on a 17-6 run over the next four-plus minutes to tie it. By the time Russell hit two free throws to set the final score, Jessup was left to a second heartbreaking loss in GSAC play.
The Warriors fell to Westmont College by two Thursday in Santa Barbara. Saturday, Brandon Lindsey led the Warriors with 25 points on 9-of-23 shooting. Tate DeLaVeaga and Luis Medearis followed with 19 points each.
Mustang Hodges Bailey provided a spark off the bench. The freshman sharpshooter hit 4-of-5 threes on his way to 14 points.
His 3-pointer with seven and a half minutes to play knotted the score at 76-all. Moments later, he hit another triple.
Jessup closed within two with 50 seconds to play, but Russell answered right back with a bucket.
He secured the defensive rebound on the ensuing possession — one of eight on the day to go with three blocks and a steal.
Tim Soares swatted three shots and finished with eight points and nine rebounds. Travis Yenor (11 points, 3-of-3 from behind the arc) and Hansel Atencia (10 points) were also crucial in helping secure TMU’s third straight win over Jessup.
Since the Warriors joined the GSAC for the 2014-15 season, the series has been almost dead even. The teams split their two meetings the first year, then Jessup swept two, then Master’s swept two.
TMU took the first meeting of 2017-18. But it was tight.
“It’s good to be tested early,” Russell said. “Especially this early in league. If we never had adversity, we’d never see how battle-tested we are.”