Find­ing their iden­tity

Women’s hoops: TMU uses de­fense for vic­tory

The Signal - - Sports - By Ha­ley Sawyer Sig­nal Sports Ed­i­tor

Against Hope In­ter­na­tional Uni­ver­sity on Thurs­day evening, one mo­tif emerged for The Mas­ter’s Uni­ver­sity women’s bas­ket­ball team: Iden­tity.

“The word for to­day was iden­tity,” said Re­bekah Throns. “We re­ally wanted to play with that and we want to be a team

that de­fen­sively stops peo­ple and that’s kind of our iden­tity that we want to play with.”

That iden­tity took shape as the game pro­gressed and even­tu­ally led to a 76-47 win over the Roy­als at Bross Court.

The Mus­tangs (6-3 over­all, 2-1 in GSAC) strug­gled to find that iden­tity at the start of the game, al­low­ing Hope In­ter­na­tional to gain a 9-7 lead that started with two 3-point­ers from Syd­ney Lopez.

TMU man­aged to tie it up at 7-7 on a layup from Anika Neu­man, then at 9-9 on a layup from Stephanie Soares, who fended off mul­ti­ple Roy­als de­fend­ers in the process.

Af­ter a time­out with 3:40 left in the frame, Hope In­ter­na­tional went on a six-point run that gained them a 20-19 ad­van­tage. The Mus­tangs showed a glimpse of what was to come when they took the lead back on two smooth layups within 30 sec­onds of each other, but HIU’s Rhi­anne Omori sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer to knot the score at 23-all.

The mes­sage at the break was sim­ple: Switch up the de­fense to limit the Roy­als’ 3-point shoot­ing.

“We knew they were go­ing to fig­ure out some play for our zone that we were play­ing,” said Soares, “So we were just try­ing to keep play­ing hard, know who the shoot­ers are, where they’re on the cor­ners and scram­ble.”

Mas­ter’s lim­ited Hope In­ter­na­tional (8-3, 1-3) to just seven points in the se­cond quar­ter, while scor­ing 20 for it­self.

The third quar­ter saw even stronger de­fense, with the Mus­tangs al­low­ing no points. A Sab­rina Thomp­son pass in the paint through traf­fic to Soares that re­sulted in a quick bas­ket was ev­i­dence that the of­fense was be­gin­ning to flow as well.

“Be­gin strong with the ball and like, just like, breath­ing a lit­tle bit,” Throns, who fin­ished with eight points, nine re­bounds and two blocks, said.

“Not get­ting rushed and play­ing how they play and fran­tic and stuff. It’s just like, be­ing strong with it, rip­ping through, pass­ing, crisp passes, look­ing in­side, look­ing out­side.”

Han­nah Ostrom also made her sea­son de­but af­ter in­jury kept her out of the last nine games, en­ter­ing the game with less than five min­utes to go in the third. She scored once on a layup in the fourth quar­ter, but her pres­ence on the court pro­vided her team with more mo­ti­va­tion than points ever could.

“She’s been work­ing re­ally hard, re­cov­er­ing and stuff, so it was re­ally good to see her back out there and try to get the ball a cou­ple times,” Throns said. “She’ll be back in there soon killing it.”

The Roy­als fought back one fi­nal time in the fourth quar­ter, play­ing a phys­i­cal game through­out the re­main­der of the game de­spite be­ing out­matched height-wise.

The Mus­tangs hung tight and shot from myr­iad an­gles to main­tain their dou­ble-digit lead.

“Just hold the ball strong. Just keep your el­bows out, just play tough,” Soares, who led the team with 16 points, said. “We knew that the refs weren’t call­ing the fouls, but we just need to play tough and hold the ball and drib­ble, pro­tect that all at the same time.”

TMU looks to keep its tough, de­fen­sive iden­tity as it re­turns to ac­tion on Satur­day at San Diego Chris­tian.

Ha­ley Sawyer/The Sig­nal

TMU’s Sab­rina Thomp­son drib­bles the ball in a game against Hope In­ter­na­tional Uni­ver­sity on Thurs­day at The Mas­ter’s Uni­ver­sity.

Ha­ley Sawyer/The Sig­nal (See ad­di­tional pho­tos on sig­

TMU’s Han­nah For­rar keeps the ball from Hope In­ter­na­tional Uni­ver­sity’s Vi­nessa Per­ry­man dur­ing a game at The Mas­ter’s Uni­ver­sity on Thurs­day.

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