Before the season began, The Master's College basketball coach Mel Hankinson said he wanted to build a program similar to that of Biola University.
And why not?
Biola has reached the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics championships five times in the past nine seasons and has become somewhat of a haven for former Division I players.
Tuesday night at Master's, Hankinson got a chance to see how his young team stacked up against the perennial power.
The result was a 94-71 win for Biola that provided some obvious answers to some of the questions Hankinson still has left to answer in his first season with the Mustangs.
"We couldn't control their point guard," Hankinson said. "That's been our weak area all season, and they really exploited that tonight.
"They also hurt us when they went inside to their big kid."
Indeed, Biola point guard Eric Nielsen and center Ed Johansen provided many of the key plays in a game that was close for the first 12 minutes.
Nielsen, a senior, scored 16 of his game-high 18 points in the first half and ran the Biola offense with savvy.
Johansen, a 6-foot-9, 227-pound senior who transferred to Biola from UC Irvine, scored 13 points and keyed the Eagles' first-half blitz that put Master's behind, 51-35.
Master's trailed, 26-25, when Johansen blocked a shot that resulted in a breakaway layup for David Hardin.
On the Mustangs' next possession, Johansen stole the ball and fed Nielsen for an easy score.
Johansen threw down a one-handed slam off an offensive rebound during Biola's next trip down the floor and the spurt was on.
The Eagles went on a 16-0 run and outscored Master's, 25-10, over the final eight minutes of the half. Biola shot 76% in the first half and 65% for the game.
"Our defense was what created that spurt," said Johansen. "You have to remember though, that we have a lot of Division-I caliber players."
The victory improved Biola to 23-6 overall, 10-3 in NAIA District 3 play. Master's is 13-13, 5-9 in district play. The Mustangs still have an outside chance at the playoffs if they can defeat La Verne Thursday night at Master's.
As for the future, Hankinson believes that the Mustangs are just a player or two away from becoming a serious contender for the District title.
The peripheral ingredients are there already. The raucous standing-room-only home crowds that pack Bross Gym produce a din as loud as they come.
"It's hard to play here because it's so loud," Biola Coach Dave Holmquist said. "They're going to have a very good program here.
"We've won enough so that people have heard about us and we get recommended. It wasn't always that way.
"Success helps with that. Mel will be getting more and more of that as they get better."