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From Blowout to Nail-biter

Posted: February 22, 2008 9:33 a.m.
Updated: April 24, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Stacy Nanninga (24) of The Master's College battles with Bryana Williams (32) of California Baptist for the ball Thursday.

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The victory improved the Mustangs to 18-7 overall and lifted them into a fourth-place tie (10-6) with Westmont in conference play with four regular-season games left.

Entering the contest, the NAIA 15th-ranked Mustangs already had one edge since the Lancers were without Nicole Davis, the GSAC's second-leading scorer (21 ppg), who was nursing a dislocated shoulder.

They took advantage of Davis' absence quickly, scoring the first points of the game on a Jenni Ritter three-ball 19 seconds into play and racing to a 28-9 lead at the 11:10 mark of the opening half.

In between they broke away from a nine-all tie with a paralyzing 19-0 run, highlighted by a trio of three-pointers, two of those by junior Jennifer Ayers-Stamper.

During that four-minute stretch, the Mustangs forced four turnovers, while the Lancers missed seven consecutive shots from the field.
The margin reached a game-high 20 points (34-14) when Ayers-Stamper, who had 10 first-half points, buried a jumper with 6:53 remaining.

Sailing along, the Mustangs appeared to be in great shape, although they lost some of their offensive edge in the final minutes of the half, taking a 41-25 cushion into the break.

The Lancers, who were just starting to get comfortable without Davis toward the end of the first stanza, carried that over into the first six minutes of the second half and outscored the Mustangs 13-4 to pull within 45-38 with 14 minutes left to play. Erin Greenberg sparked the spurt with six points.

The Mustangs answered back by ripping off seven of the game's next nine points as Ritter drained a trey and Stacy Nanninga capped the burst with a jumper for a 52-40 advantage at the 11:40 mark.

But, the Lancers wouldn't go away, whittling the deficit to 55-51 three minutes later on a pair of Bryana Williams' free throws.

Watching the lead and their hopes for a first-round GSAC Tournament home game slipping away, the Mustangs turned to sophomore guard Lisa Chenoweth who tossed in consecutive three-pointers to build the advantage back to double digits (61-51).

Still, the Lancers weren't finished as they reeled off five straight points and eventually drew within 66-63 on a Brenna Hahn layup with 2:40 left on the clock.

A nervous Bross Gym crowd watched anxiously as Chenoweth responded with a driving layup before Hahn equaled that with a jumper on the other end.

Nursing a 68-65 lead with just over a minute left, Erica Inge milked some time off the clock and then converted a pair of free throws for a five-point edge.

Once again, Hahn dittoed that on her squad's next possession.

In desperate pursuit of the ball, the Lancers started to foul and the Mustangs made them pay.

First, Inge buried two more tosses and then Chenoweth closed things out at the line, tallying the game's final two points.

Ayers-Stamper paced four Mustangs in double figures with 15 points while Ritter and Nanninga, who grabbed a game-high eight rebounds, tossed in 14 apiece.

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