Santa Clarita, CA -- Derrick Fain scored six of his game-high 23 points in the second overtime, including a pair of go-ahead free throws, to lift The Master's College past Westmont 85-84 in a thrilling GSAC contest played before an enthusiastic crowd in the MacArthur Center.
Left for dead in last place just 10 days ago, the Mustangs have vaulted up the conference standings to settle in a three-way tie for fourth place at 5-6 (17-9 overall), just one game back of second-place Concordia and Arizona Christian. The victory was the squad's second double-overtime triumph of the season and avenged a January 28 loss to the Warriors in Santa Barbara.
With the score deadlocked at 81-all with 45 seconds left in the second extra period, Fain (Dallas, TX), named the GSAC Player of the Week on Monday, canned two charity tosses to put the Mustangs ahead. Westmont's Jason Ritchey converted one of two from the line with 22 seconds remaining to carve the deficit to one and a desperate Warrior team fouled Fain again. The junior sharpshooter calmly sank two more free tosses for a three-point lead.
Ritchey countered with a jumper at the five-second mark and the Warriors had one more chance following a Mustang turnover but couldn't hit a game-winning shot. That put an end to a wild second overtime that featured five lead changes. The Mustangs led by as many three points twice (76-73 and 85-82) while Westmont's largest advantage was 81-79.
That see-saw effect wasn't part of the first extra period when the clubs had a hard time finding the hoop, combining for only 14 points. However, free throws played a key role as the Mustangs scored their final three points from the line, including one by Dominique Lanier (Lakewood, CA) that knotted the game at 72 and paved the way for the second extra stanza.
All of this extra play was the result of a terrific second half that featured sparkling shooting by both clubs and a furious charge by Westmont in the waning moments. Holding a seven-point (28-21) lead coming out of intermission, the Mustangs quickly claimed the evening's only double-digit lead when Fain drained consecutive three-pointers and Bernard Ireland (Victorville, CA) scored on a layup to extend the margin to 36-26 at the 17:32 mark.
The Warriors responded with a pair of buckets but a Korey Anderson jumper with 15:39 left to play gave the Mustangs a 41-33 edge. They would never enjoy that kind of margin the rest of the evening as the Warriors chipped away at the deficit over the next five minutes, taking their first lead (48-47) since the game's opening minutes on a Mantas Drungys layup at the 10:03 mark.
They capped off what developed into a 10-3 burst two minutes later when Drungys buried a three-pointer for a 51-48 lead. The momentum shifted dramatically, though, as the Mustangs reeled off eight straight points, taking a 56-51 advantage on a Fain jumper with 6:57 remaining. Zach Stalin (Bellingham, WA) sparked the run with back-to-back baskets and Fain did the rest with a layup and his jumper.
The Mustangs enjoyed another five-point cushion at 60-55 before the Warriors closed with a rush, using consecutive trifectas in the span of 52 seconds to surge ahead by one. An Ireland free throw knotted the game at 61 and Lanier moved the Mustangs back in front again, 63-61, with 1:33 on the clock.
However, Westmont's Christopher Miller sandwiched a pair of jumpers, the second one tying the game at 65-all with 36 seconds remaining, around a Korey Anderson (Clovis, CA) dunk that eventually sent the game into overtime.
In the second half, the Mustangs shot a solid 56% (15-27) from the field while the Warriors were just a little better, going 18-30 (60%) from the floor.
That type of shooting was nowhere to be found in a rather ho-hum first half with neither club converting better than 40% of their shots. Westmont started quickly, scoring the game's first five points and led 12-7 at the 14:08 mark.
After hitting just one of their first seven shots and trailing by that five-point margin, the Mustangs found their offensive stroke, using it to score 17 of the game's next 20 points and running away to a 24-15 lead.
Anderson ignited the charge with five straight points, including a rare three-pointer (his second of the season), Stalin rained one in from behind the arc as did Ireland and when Fain scored on a driving layup with 6:33 left in the opening half, the Mustangs had their nine-point lead.
Layups from Lanier and Anderson gave the club its third nine-point lead (28-19) in a five-minute stretch before a Miller jumper sent the clubs to the locker room separated by seven points.
After all the dust had settled, the Mustangs could point to their third straight game of shooting better than 50% from the field as one of the reasons why they are enjoying this late-season surge. The Mustangs wound up going 30-59 (51%) from the floor while the Warriors finished at 47%.
Meanwhile, Westmont will look back on this one and see their horrendous 5-15 showing from the charity stripe as the reason why they lost. The Mustangs converted 18-26 (69%).
Fain earned his game-high total on 8-14 shooting, including a 3-6 performance from behind the arc, and a perfect 4-4 from the line. Anderson added 15 points and took down a team-high seven rebounds, Jason Logan notched 13 points off the bench, and Lanier scored 12 more, eight of those from the line.
The Mustangs continue their rush toward the upper echelon of the GSAC on Saturday when they welcome San Diego Christian to Bross Court for a 7:30pm start. The Mustangs beat the Hawks 77-67 on February 1 in El Cajon.