Santa Clarita, CA -- On an evening when it was drizzling outside, The Master's College created its own version of rain inside Bross Gym, pouring in 11 three-pointers while holding off Arizona Christian 91-81 in a hard-fought GSAC contest.
The victory continued a win-one, lose-one pattern for the Mustangs who improved to 14-9 overall and 3-5 in the GSAC where they are tied with two other teams for fifth place.
Although head coach Chuck Martin would never admit it, this one was a must-win for the Mustangs who ended the first half of conference play with a 2-5 mark. So, with Derrick Fain (Dallas, TX), Devin Dyer (Temecula, CA), and Leif Karlberg (Anchorage, AK) combining for 10 trifectas, the Mustangs were able to counter the Firestorm who hit 12 from behind the arc.
The Mustangs' accuracy from behind the arc was most evident in the second half when they connected on seven treys. The first of those came from Dyer, tying the game at 39 and triggering a 10-0 run that put the Mustangs ahead to stay. Jason Logan (Spartanburg, SC), who wowed the crowd with more highlight-reel plays, tallied the other seven points of the skein that produced a 46-39 advantage with 17:16 left to play.
However, this one was far from over. It seemed like every time the Mustangs were about to put the Firestorm away, the visitors would come raging back to keep everyone on pins and needles. Over the next six minutes, the Firestorm stayed within striking distance, even closing to 56-55 on a Talib Uqdah three-pointer with 12:27 left in the game.
Not to be outdone by his Firestorm counterpart (Uqdah poured in eight three-pointers), Fain responded in decisive fashion, draining a trio of trifectas in less than two minutes to extend the Mustang lead to 65-58 at the 9:39 mark. An Uqdah trey on Arizona's next possession sliced the deficit to four points but a Paul Brown (Kingston, Jamaica) three-point play fueled a 10-2 burst that Karlberg finished with a triple for a 75-63 lead with 7:13 remaining.
Still, the Firestorm was not done. Trailing by twelve (79-67) with under five minutes to play, the visitors made one last rush. With Uqdah draining consecutive threes, the Firestorm made up more than half the deficit in less than two minutes, closing to 80-75 at the 2:52 mark.
The clubs traded baskets over the next two minutes until a Dyer breakaway dunk sparked a 5-0 burst that created a 89-79 margin and put out the Firestorm for good.
The first half was a different game altogether as no more than three points separated the squads during a stanza that featured 13 lead changes and six ties. The Mustangs enjoyed several of those leads and were up 31-28 after Fain converted a pair of free throws with 3:43 remaining in the half. But that advantage was erased over the next 1:50 as the Firestorm outscored the Mustangs 7-1, highlighted by a Charles King three-pointer that snapped a 32-all tie with 1:53 left.
Brown and Dyer responded with consecutive jumpers to move the Mustangs back in front 36-35 but a Daniel Cornelius jumper at the buzzer sent the Firestorm to the locker room ahead 37-36.
The Mustangs connected on 43% of their shots in the first half but warmed up over the final 20 minutes, hitting 59% (20-34) from the field during the closing stanza, highlighted by a 7-10 performance from three-point range.
Fain led all scorers with 28 points, 19 of those coming in a sizzling second half when he connected on a trio of three-pointers. Dyer, who has had his struggles from the field this season had no problems Saturday evening, going 9-14 (3-4 from long range) from the field en route to 21 points. He also dished out a team-best four assists.
Logan contributed 14 points and took down seven rebounds while Karlberg, who went scoreless in the first half, tallied 11 points, nine of those coming on a trio of three-pointers. Rounding out a balanced attack, Brown chipped in with nine points and yanked down a game-high 10 rebounds.
GSAC Men's Basketball News:
In other GSAC action, No. 12 Hope International fell to Concordia 75-55, San Diego Christian upset No. 5 Westmont 78-75, and Vanguard edged Biola 71-58.