November 8, 2014
Santa Clarita, CA -- Maybe all it took was a return to the friendly confines of Bross Gym.
At least, that's what the stat sheet would tell those who witnessed Saturday night's home opener as The Master's College rebounded from a couple of poor shooting performances earlier in the week to fly past La Sierra 91-74.
After shooting in the 30% range in an exhibition loss at Michigan State on Monday and a few percentage points higher in the season-opener at Aquinas the following evening, the Mustangs turned things around in Ken Sugarman's return to the bench, shooting at a crisp 52% clip. A particularly strong second half that featured 56% shooting not only made the final percentage look good but enabled the Mustangs to pull away from the Golden Eagles.
It took that long for the Mustangs to create some much-needed separation following a first half that featured eight lead changes and four ties. The Mustangs drew first blood on a Chris Patureau (Houston, TX) layup 28 seconds into play and then outscored the Eagles 13-6 over a 5:45 span to take a 15-9 lead with 12:45 left in the opening half. Reid Shackelford triggered the skein with a three-pointer and Patureau finished it off with another layup, the last of seven points tallied by the senior forward during the run. He wound up with 18 points during the first 20 minutes.
However, the Eagles didn't go away. They used a 13-6 run of their own to claim their second lead of the evening, 22-21, at the 9:15 mark before Patureau put the Mustangs back in front with a three-pointer, sparking an 8-0 burst, just eight seconds later. The Eagles duplicated that in less than two minutes, reclaiming the lead (30-29) with 6:53 left on an Andre Marquez layup. They enjoyed the lead one more time at 35-34 before the Mustangs finished the half with a rush.
Russell Byrd (Santa Clarita, CA) started it with two charity tosses at the 3:47 mark to move the Mustangs in front to stay and Evan Jenkins finished off the half-ending, 11-0 run on a three-pointer with 53 seconds left in the half, giving the club a 45-35 edge at the break.
After struggling from long distance in their two games in the upper Midwest, the Mustangs went 6-14 (43%) from behind the arc in the opening stanza.
The Mustangs carried that run over into the opening seconds of the final stanza when a Patureau layup with 19:51 showing on the clock capped off what turned out to be a 13-0 burst.
That put some distance between the two clubs and the Eagles never got closer than eight points (47-39) the rest of the way. From then on, the Mustangs methodically pulled away, using a 10-3 skein to move in front 57-42 with just over 15 minutes left to play.
A 13-4 run, fueled by a Byrd layup and finished off by two trifectas from the senior wing, gave the club its first 20-point-plus lead of the evening at 72-50 at the 11:27 mark. Byrd wasn't done either. Following a 1-6 showing from behind the arc in the first half, Byrd heated up in the second, going 4-6 from long distance, including consecutive treys that mushroomed the advantage to 81-58 with 7:26 left to play.
The Mustangs enjoyed their largest lead of the evening at 89-65 on a Tikko Moore (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands) jumper with 2:38 remaining before cruising home for the win.
Byrd and Patureau paced all scorers with career-highs of 27 points apiece. Byrd went 10-18 from the field, had six rebounds, and dished out five assists while Patureau missed only three shots in 14 attempts, pulled down half a dozen rebounds, and tied Jenkins for game-high assist honors with six. Shackelford tacked on 13 more points and Nick Paul (London, England) came off the bench to score 10 points and tear down six caroms in 23 effective minutes.
Following a busy week, featuring thousands of miles in the air, the Mustangs get some time off before hosting an exhibition against American Sports University Friday evening on Bross Court at 7:00pm.