January 9, 2017
Santa Clarita, Calif. -- Delewis Johnson came off the bench to score a career-high 26 points and The Master's University used a sparkling second half to beat NCAA Division II Humboldt State 83-73 Tuesday evening on Bross Court.
Bouncing back from a disappointing loss to Hope International two nights earlier, the Mustangs stayed undefeated (11-0) in non-conference play and improved to 12-3.
Head coach Kelvin Starr recognized the timeliness of the victory, saying, "It was a great bounce-back win for us tonight against a great offensive team. Our effort was back to where it should be for 40 minutes."
Johnson was a major part of that effort. He's not your typical sixth man. The sophomore guard plays starters' minutes and is always on the court at the end of the game. On Monday evening, he played 33 minutes, scoring 12 points to keep the Mustangs close in the first half and then adding 14 more over the final 20 minutes as TMU caught and then pulled away from the Lumberjacks.
Johnson's first hoop of the game gave the Mustangs a 9-5 lead with 14:49 left in the opening half and his layup over six minutes later (8:14 left) handed his club its last advantage of the stanza, 23-21.
The Lumberjacks reeled off four straights to move ahead and then forged a six-point lead (40-34) before Johnson nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the Mustangs to halftime down 40-37.
The Mustangs shot okay in the first half, converting 44% of their attempts. However, they had a difficult time stopping the 'Jacks, who shot at a 56% clip.
Those numbers would be nearly reversed in the second half as the Mustangs started to find the range, especially in the paint where they outscored Humboldt State 20-6 over the final twenty minutes.
After falling behind 48-43 with 17:17 left to play, the Mustangs roared back with strong defense and timely accuracy. Senior Reid Shackelford ignited an 11-2 run with a three-pointer, his layup put the Mustangs up 52-50, and when Johnson canned two free throws with 13:46 remaining, the Mustangs had a 54-50 lead.
After the Lumberjacks closed to 56-54, the Mustangs put together another skein and Johnson led the way. He scored six of the Mustangs' nine points in a 2:10 stretch to extend the advantage to 65-56 at the 10:28 mark.
However, the 'Jacks refused to cave in. They reeled off seven straight points to close within 65-63 just two minutes later before Johnson went to work again. His jumper stopped the Humboldt skein and he followed with another one to make it a 69-63 lead with 7:14 left to play.
Two free throws by Shackelford extended the margin to seven points (71-64) before the Lumberjacks made one last effort to catch the Mustangs. They tore off five straight points to get within 71-69 and then Johnson stepped up once again, hitting a jumper to give the Mustangs a four-point lead.
Shackelford followed with a clutch three-pointer and Tim Soares added a close-range jumper that capped a 7-1 burst for a 78-70 advantage with just under two minutes remaining.
That was enough separation to make the difference as the Mustangs scored their final five points from the line to win by 10, their largest lead of the evening.
In a decisive reversal of accuracy, the Mustangs shot 59% over the final 20 minutes while limiting the 'Jacks to 43%. The Mustangs finished the game at just under 52%.
Johnson was the prime mover for the Mustangs, going 10-13 from the field en route to his career-high total. Shackelford was 5-10 and had 16 more. Lawrence Russell put together another solid all-around game, scoring 14 points while posting game-highs with nine rebounds, five assists, and three steals.
Soares had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Evan Jenkins played strong defense and threw in 10 points.
The Mustangs, hoping to duplicate this effort again, return to GSAC play on Wednesday evening when they play at San Diego.