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Mustangs survive Biola comeback

Posted: January 25, 2014 11:07 p.m.
Updated: January 25, 2014 11:07 p.m.

Millie Rivera (3) of The Master's College steals the ball from Biola University defender Aubree Mittel (25) at TMC on Saturday.

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Old rivals die hard, and such was the case with the visiting Biola Eagles women’s basketball team visiting The Master’s College on Saturday evening at The Master’s College.

After jumping out to a comfortable lead, the Mustangs needed key foul shots and momentum-killing jumpers to finally put away Biola, winning 73-60 to stay undefeated in conference play as the heart of the Golden State Athletic Conference season looms.

“This team (Biola) came in here with nothing to lose having beat us last year,” said TMC head coach Dan Waldeck. “They were coming off a big win against San Diego Christian and they got a few key players back, so we knew it was going to be a battle.”

As usual, the Mustangs were led by senior Jacquelyn Marshall, who scored a game-high 20 points and brought down 14 rebounds to go along with it.

However, most of Marshall’s presence was felt in the second half, when the game slowed down and foul shots became the premier form of currency over the final ten minutes.

Instead, the Mustangs (16-3 overall, 4-0 in GSAC) jumped out to a 29-16 halftime lead behind a 4-for-9 team performance behind the 3-point line.

“Our team started out slow tonight and didn’t take care of things on our end during the key possessions in the first half,” said Biola head coach Bethany Miller. “We just needed to be better disciplined, there are a lot of good programs in this league.”

Mustangs sophomore guard Nicole Nitake was perhaps the most lethal behind the arc on Saturday, finishing 4-for-6 from distance and scoring 14 points to go along with three assists.

With 13:44 remaining in the second half, Nitake forced a steal and found Marshall just seconds later for the score.

Following completion of the three-point-play by Marshall from the foul line, TMC led 49-28 and looked poised for a comfortable home win.

“Nicole’s been big for us all season,” Waldeck added. “Our bench usually comes up big and gives us about 30 or 40 points per game, but today they struggled and didn’t defend like they normally do.”

Taking advantage of the Mustangs’ second unit were the Eagles, who began a valiant comeback attempt once TMC’s starters went to the sidelines to catch a breather.

The Eagles (6-14, 1-3) would eventually get within six points, when a jumper from guard Chelsea Hill brought the score to 66-60 with 2:30 remaining in the game.

But following key free throw shots from Mustangs standouts Whitney Best and Zoe Scott, TMC held on to win by double digits.

Leading the way for Biola was forward Adjat Adams, who scored 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Next week, things will heat up for the Mustangs.

On Tuesday, TMC will travel to Santa Barbara to face NAIA No. 12 Westmont, with No. 1 Vanguard coming to Bross Gymnasium a week from then. As of Jan. 21, the Mustangs were ranked the No. 9 team in NAIA Division I.

“Our team really helps each other out and the girls are super encouraging on the court and off it,” Nitake said. “It’s been fun so far, not much else you can say.”

The Mustangs can say a lot with big wins over tough competition in the coming weeks.

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