When Push Comes to Shove

January 26, 2013

Box Score:

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – Sometimes, the best form of motivation comes in the form of a kick in the pants.  For the Lady Mustangs, it was an elbow to the back.

After trailing the Lady Hawks the entirety of the first half, Jacquelyn Marshall (San Clemente, CA) drove in a layup six minutes into the second stanza, giving the Lady Mustangs their first lead at 35-33.

Over the next three minutes, the Lady Mustangs slowly, but surely, extended their lead to 40-35, paced by a Zoe Scott (Spokane, WA) three-pointer, and a Kelly Burns (Yorba Linda, CA) layup.

And then, it happened.

Just as Lena Rivera (Allen, TX) was going in for a layup to give the Lady Mustangs a seven point advantage, San Diego Christians’ Brittney Daniel delivered a punishing elbow to Rivera’s back, sending the 5-10 senior crashing to the ground.

That intentional foul sparked a 7-0 run on part of TMC, featuring Rivera sinking two free throws, and younger sister Millie Rivera (Allen, TX) draining a jumper, and posting a long range three-pointer. Shaken, but not seriously hurt, Lena Rivera went on to finish the game.

With a 12 point cushion entering into the remaining 10 minutes of play, the Lady Mustangs were faithful to maintain their lead to the final buzzer, never letting their advantage dip below six points.

“We sat in the zone in the first half letting them [SDCC] hit some tough three-pointers, so we decided to play man-to-man in the second half, and were able to get some stops and get some key shots in,” commented Lady Mustang head coach Dan Waldeck.  “We played much tougher, and rebounded better when the game easily could have gotten out of hand.”

At the end of the first half, the Lady Mustangs were held to a meager 29% shooting accuracy, easily over-shadowed by the Lady Hawks’ 55% field goal completion.  After the break, TMC’s shooting accuracy improved to 40%, while SDCC succumbed to a minimal 28%.  Despite the Lady Mustangs’ solid 60-50 victory, TMC was outshot by the Hawks 37% (18-46) to 35% (20-56).

Marshall led all scorers with 19 points, earned a double-double with 10 rebounds, and led the squad with four blocks.  Lena Rivera chipped in 10 points, while Scott and Burns each scored eight.

The Lady Mustangs, whose overall record improves to 19-1, now fix their sights to Tuesday’s 5:30 PM road game in Costa Mesa against conference rival Vanguard.  The Pride, who ranks No. 3 in the NAIA's most recent Division I Women's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Poll, is currently tied in second place with the No. 8 nationally ranked Lady Mustangs in the Golden State Athletic Conference with a 5-1 record, and also boasts a 14-1 overall record.

“It doesn’t get any easier for us,” assessed Waldeck. “Hopefully we can go in, play some good team-centered basketball, and leave it all into the Lord’s hands.”

If Saturday night’s game against the Lady Hawks shows anything, it’s that the Lady Mustangs aren’t afraid to play with intensity.  Especially when push comes to shove.

GSAC Women’s Basketball News:

In other GSAC action, No. 9 Westmont took down Arizona Christian 95-58, No. 3 Vanguard narrowly defeated Hope 65-60, and Concordia topped Biola 58-54.