January 4, 2018
A lot of rust can accumulate over three weeks. Just ask Dan Waldeck.
"It definitely looked and felt like we've only played three games in the last five weeks," said the 10th-year TMU head coach. "I expected quite a bit of rustiness, but we dug ourselves such a deep hole from which we never fully recovered."
That hole was as deep as 25 points and led to an 84-69 loss to visiting Menlo College in the Golden State Athletic Conference opener for both clubs. The NAIA 15th-ranked Mustangs fell to 9-3 overall and 0-1 in the conference.
The effects of the 21-day layoff weren't apparent right away as the Mustangs held a 12-9 lead midway through the opening quarter.
However, the Oaks closed the stanza on a 13-4 run to pull ahead.
In the second quarter, the Mustangs went only 3-for-17 from the field and were outscored 26-11 on the way to a 48-27 deficit at halftime.
Over the opening 20 minutes, the Mustangs managed just 29% accuracy from the field, including a 1-of-11 showing on 3-pointers by a team that entered the night as the nation's third most accurate bunch from behind the arc.
It grew worse before it got better as the Oaks built leads of 57-32 and 61-36 in the latter stages of the third period.
"Menlo played well and played like a team that has rhythm," Waldeck said. "I thought we played a much better second half, but it just wasn't enough."
They did play better in the final few minutes of the third quarter and into the fourth, chopping the deficit nearly in half before running out of time.
Down 76-53 with 4:43 remaining, the Mustangs outscored the Oaks 12-2 in a 2:17 window to close within 78-65.
Sophomore guard Brooke Bailey keyed the run, sandwiching a couple of 3-pointers around two free throws. And when Sabrina Thompson converted a charity toss, the Mustangs were within 13 points.
However, the Mustangs ran out of time just as the rust started to fade.
Bailey equaled a season-high with 19 points, including a trio of threes. Freshman Anika Neuman scored in double figures for the eighth time in a dozen games, tallying 16 point for the Mustangs.
Looking ahead to a quick turnaround and Saturday afternoon's game against William Jessup, Waldeck said, "We'll get back into game rhythm and I know we'll be just fine. Moving on to Saturday."
The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Bross Court.