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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | COLLEGE ROUNDUP

Master's Men Get a Needed Victory

February 02, 2001|MITCH POLIN

This was exactly what The Master's College men's basketball team needed.

Facing must-win situations in their final five games, the Mustangs opened up an 11-1 lead in the first three minutes and coasted to a 109-45 victory Thursday night over La Sierra at Master's.

La Sierra (6-13) forced Master's into overtime before losing, 86-83, on Jan. 16.

The same couldn't be said for the Mustangs (15-10), who were as healthy as they have been all season.

"We were very sick the last time," Master's Coach Bill Oates said. "We had two or three starters out. This is really the first time everybody's been healthy."

It made a noticeable difference for the Mustangs, who led, 53-16, at halftime and used 11 players in the game.

Guard Kenny Jackson, who came off the bench to score 21 points and made five three-points baskets, said the first meeting between the teams helped inspire the Mustangs.

"We just wanted to show them something after we went to overtime the last time," he said. "They kind of snuck up on us and we let down."

That wasn't the case from the start of the rematch.

Oates said he was particularly impressed with his team's defense. The Mustangs forced 30 turnovers, including 18 in the first half.

That helped Master's get plenty of open shots at the basket. The Mustangs wound up making 54.1% of their shots (40 of 74) in the game while La Sierra made only 20.7% (12 of 58).

Master's is hoping the victory gives them momentum heading into their final four games.

It's a stretch that includes games against College of West Virginia, the top-ranked team in NAIA Division I, on Feb. 10 and 11th-ranked Christian Heritage on Feb. 15.

Jackson hopes a winning streak at the end of the season will be enough to earn the Mustangs their eighth consecutive appearance in the NAIA tournament.

"All we keep saying is we need a shot at the tournament," Jackson said. "If we get in, we can make something happen."

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