COSTA MESA, Calif. – Fourth-ranked Vanguard hosted No. 9 The Master's College in a highly anticipated Golden State Athletic Conference match-up on Tuesday. The Lions led for the majority of the contest and were able to snag the 69-65 victory despite a late push from the Mustangs. Aussie counterparts Esther Timmermans (Melbourne, Australia) and Alison Drennan (Wheelers Hill, Australia) recorded clutch double-double performances for Vanguard in the win.
GSAC Player of the Week Nicole Ballestero (Orange, Calif.) and freshman Samantha Doucette (Irvine, Calif.) also managed big double-digit point totals for the Lions. Doucette scored a team-best 19, while Ballestero tallied 17 points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal in a full game.
The opening minutes of the GSAC contest were a flurry, as both squads came out of the gate sprinting and on fire. Vanguard took an early lead and held it until a 3-pointer from The Master's Kimmy Iverson (San Marcos, Calif.) at 8:29 gave the Mustangs a brief 24-23 edge.
The Pride would not trail long, however, as Ballestero nailed a falling down jumper on the next trip to grab the lead back for Vanguard.
Vanguard went on to close the period strong, using an 11-4 run to claim a 39-32 advantage at half-time.
Doucette was the difference-maker through 20 minutes, scoring a team-leading 13 points before the break. Timmermans and Ballestero managed nine apiece and Timmermans dished out four assists for the Lions.
The majority of the Mustangs' points were earned from behind the arc, as The Master's shot 7-17 from downtown in the first period. Junior Jacquelyn Marshall (San Clemente, Calif.) led the way for the visitors, posting 10 points on 4-7 shooting.
The Blue and Gold controlled the pace in the second and went up by as many as 11 before The Mustangs made a run at the comeback. The Master's came within three (51-48) at 9:47 but the Lions roared back, playing as a unit, to stretch the margin to 11 again just four minutes later.
The Master's full-court press caused problems down the stretch for Vanguard as The Mustangs chipped away to come within three points again at the 1:20 mark. Mustang junior Zoe Scott (Spirit Lake, Idaho) brought the game to even (65-65) three seconds later, draining one from downtown after a steal from teammate Whitney Best (Snohomish, Wash.).
A pair of made free throws by Timmermans put the home team up by a bucket with under a minute to go in the affair.
The Master's got two decent looks in the final ticks but Alison Drennan came up with a pair of incredible blocked shots and Ballestero sealed the deal with two more from the charity stripe to give the Pride the big win.
Alison Drennan's line featured 11 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two swats and a steal. Timmerman's double-double composed of 17 points and 13 boards.
"We finally brought our A-game tonight," the Aussies said. "We got it done by playing an entire game as a team."
Rebounding was the big difference in the game. The Lions grabbed 14 more off of the glass than the Mustangs.
Scott scored a game-high 20 points for The Master's College (19-2, 5-2 GSAC).