November 8, 2012
Salt Lake City, UT - Whitney Best tallied a game-high 18 points and Theresa Brown added 16 more in her first game in almost a year to lead The Master's College to a 73-62 upset of fifth-ranked Westminster of Utah on the first day of the Westminster Fall Classic in Salt Lake City.
Considering the Mustangs' lopsided defeats in two exhibitions last weekend, albeit to NCAA Division I schools, and a regular-season opener on the road against the No. 5 team in the country, it was a sterling accomplishment for fifth-year head coach Dan Waldeck's squad. Just as amazing was the way in which they did it, leading, with the exception of a 2-2 tie, from the opening tip-off to the closing horn.
Best (Snohomish, WA) unlocked that tie on a layup with 18 minutes left in the first half and the Mustangs were never caught again. It took a few more minutes but the Mustangs started to put some distance between themselves and the Griffins with an 8-0 burst in a 3:08 window to go up 14-5 at the 12:32 mark of the half. Junior Jacqui Marshall (San Clemente, CA) triggered the run with a jumper, freshman Nicole Nitake (Torrance, CA) added a jumper, and Brown, who last appeared in a game November 18, 2011, finished it off with consecutive jumpers.
A little over two minutes later, sophomore Millie Rivera (Allen, TX) lengthened the advantage into double figures (18-7) with a layup but the host Griffins, realizing they were about to be blown out, tore off five straight points, cutting the deficit to 18-12 with 8:15 left in the half. However, junior sharpshooter Zoe Scott (Spirit Lake, WA), snapped that streak, draining a three-ball just nine seconds later and when Best equaled that at the 5:53 mark, the margin was back in double figures at 26-15.
But, that was the last time the Mustangs would enjoy that kind of cushion in the half as the Griffins started to make a move in the final five minutes, closing to five points (26-21) with five minutes left and then making it a three-point game (30-27) at the 1:52 mark. However, a Kimmy Iverson (San Marcos, CA) trifecta doubled the lead and Best extended the advantage to 35-28 before the Griffins tallied the final two points before intermission.
Over the opening 20 minutes, the Mustangs shot a sparkling 54% (15-28) from the field and enjoyed an 18-6 point advantage in the paint. Eight of those points came from Brown who would equal that total in the second half, too.
Coming out of the break, the Mustangs wasted no time in establishing control, ripping off nine straight points in a 3:34 window to take a game-high 14-point lead (44-30). Best sparked the run with a three-pointer, Lena Rivera (Allen, TX) added two free throws, and Brown tossed in a pair of jumpers.
That double-figure advantage lasted less than a minute as the Griffins scored 11 of the game's next 12 points to pull within 45-41 with 13:27 left in the game. Once again, though, the Mustangs, who made Waldeck "proud because of their poise on the road against a great team", had a response, scoring seven straight points to move ahead 52-41 with 9:30 remaining. Marshall keyed the burst with a layup, Iverson buried a three-ball, and Brown capped it off with a layup.
The Griffins would get no closer than seven points the rest of the way but there was still plenty of basketball left to be played. Down the stretch, the Griffins would make it a seven-point game on four occasions, but each time they did, the Mustangs answered back each time. The Rivera girls teamed for four straight points to rebuff the Griffins one time, Lena Rivera used baskets on two other occasions, and Marshall supplied the dagger with 1:13 left on a three-pointer for a 68-58 lead.
The Mustangs' accuracy in the second half fell to 46% (12-26) but it was more than enough since the defense stifled the Griffins, holding the hosts to 27% (9-34) shooting over the final 20 minutes and 29% for the game.
Best went 5-8 from the field and 6-8 from the line to earn her 18 points and dished out a team-best four assists. Brown shot 8-18 from the field en route to her 16 points and yanked down six rebounds. Lena Rivera was the other Mustang in double figures, tallying 10 points while pulling down a team-high eight rebounds.
The Mustangs won't be able to dwell on this win too long as they jump back into action on day two of the classic on Friday when they play No. 15 Lewis-Clark State of Idaho.