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TMC's Erica Inge: Mustang motor

The Master’s College point guard has proven to be the primary catalyst for her team

Posted: February 21, 2010 10:25 p.m.
Updated: February 22, 2010 4:55 a.m.

The Master's College point guard Erica Inge (13) drives down the court against Westmont on Feb. 13. Inge has successfully adapted her game on a couple of occasions to excel in the Mustangs' system.

 
It’s been apparent throughout Golden State Athletic Conference play for The Master’s College.

Junior point guard Erica Inge is the motor that runs TMC’s women’s basketball team.

Her slicing drives, lockdown defense and skill at the point balance the offense and have become crucial ingredients to Mustangs head coach Dan Waldeck’s new system.

The team is still vying for fourth place in the GSAC, which would go a long way toward achieving a team goal — a bid to the NAIA tournament that eluded them last year.

To earn it, the Mustangs will also rely heavily on a cadre of experienced players.

But the offense only goes as far as Inge leads it.

“I know our team is at its best when she’s on the floor,” says Waldeck, who’s in his second year at the helm. “I think our team takes on her personality when she’s confident and she’s playing well. And the reverse is true, too. That’s a lot of pressure, but that’s the point guard position.”

While her coach describes Inge as the team’s motor because of her drive and determination, her teammates say she’s vital to steering the offense.

“She has a great shot, and her No. 1 strength is driving and kicking out,” says senior Annie Gillespie, who holds school records for accuracy from the free throw line and beyond the arc. She added that three years of playing with Inge has helped with the chemistry.

“She knows how everyone moves so well,” Gillespie says. “When she has the ball, I usually get wide open shots.”

Inge helps distribute the ball at a pace of five assists per game, but the transition to a more traditional, pass-first point guard role was something new for her coming out of Dorsey High School.

“I was kind of selfish out of necessity,” Inge says of her high school playing days. “I had to kind of learn and trust that I didn’t have to try and score 30 points for my team to win a game.”

It would be an important learning curve, as Inge’s first two seasons at TMC saw her involved in a system heavily managed by the point guard spot.

“It was hard for me to adapt because I never knew what structured basketball was,” Inge says. “Coming here, I learned a lot as far as becoming a team player.”

This season, the team has run more of Waldeck’s new offense, which constantly moves the ball around. It made sense for the personnel — an athletic group of solid shooters.

It also meant Inge had to readjust her style of play, again.

“We went from as system where the ball is dominated by the point guard to a system now, where she gets the ball late and gets us out of trouble a lot,” Waldeck says.

However, Waldeck says Inge’s drive and maturation have helped her handle the challenges, and it helps her to make her teammates better as well.

Senior Jenna Reed has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the new system. After averaging 6.7 points per game last year, Reed more than doubled her average to 14.4 points this season.

“(Inge is) very good at making sure that everyone’s on the same page and helping everyone stay together on offense and defense,” Reed says. “She’s good at pushing the tempo and making all of us work harder to keep up with her.”

The Mustangs have had the most success this year when the intensity of their 80 point-per-game offense — which is second in the conference — is matched by their defense.

Inge helps lead that charge, too, averaging almost three steals per game to lead the conference.

She led the charge against Westmont in a 76-54 TMC win Feb. 13, swiping two steals in the opening minutes that led to 3-pointers at the other end.

Inge earned assists on both plays, and the Mustangs grabbed a lead they would never relinquish.

But Inge knows TMC (15-10, 10-7) still has some work to do with the final three games of the season ahead of them.

Still, she doesn’t talk a lot about the team’s goals down the road.

“Our team motto is ‘One,’ Inge says. “We say this before every practice and every game, and that just reminds us that it’s one play at a time, one practice at a time, one step at a time.”

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