Menlo 93, The Master's 81
Date of competition: Thursday, January 31, 2019
Returning home for the first time in nearly three weeks, Menlo College was hoping to keep the good times rolling against one of the best in the nation. No. 7 The Master's University stood in the way of the Oaks and a three-game winning streak and Menlo rose to the occasion. Using a blistering offensive attack in the first half and some timely shots in the second half, Menlo downed the Mustangs 93-81 for the best win in program history, in terms of taking down a ranked opponent. The Oaks are now 9-11 (5-6) while the Mustangs drop to 19-4 (8-3).
Running Into Half
This game had all the makings of a seesaw-affair with the score tied at 34-34 and 3:57 left in the first half. Kaniela Aiona used one of his timeouts to bring a calmness to the game after the Mustangs had just scored eight in a row to tie it. What ensued turned out to be the difference in the game, with the Oaks scoring 15 unanswered and ending the half on an 18-2 run. John Paine got it started with a 3 and Jeremiah Testa hit back-to-back corner 3s to make it 47-34. Another Menlo steal and a Charles Neal layup later, and it was 15 in a row. Neal hit the biggest shot of the night, however, as he played one-on-one with his defender and hit a step-back three-pointer as the horn sounded to end the first half, giving Menlo a 52-36 lead at the break.
Those Good Numbers
Why did the Oaks explode late in the half? They were able to hit bigger shots than the Mustangs. Menlo shot over 56 percent in the first half, on 20-35 from the floor, but they were notably 6-15 from three-point range, while the Mustangs were just 1-10 in the opening stanza from distance. The Oaks also moved the ball well, with nine assists in the first half, while the Mustangs did not record an assist.
Everyone Chipping In
Five different Oak players scored in double-figures. Neal led the Oaks with 19 points on 7-11 shooting, with Paine adding 16 points that included seven free throws. Testa and Henry Cornelious added 15 of their own while N'Jai LeBlanc had 13 points with six assists. His three 3-pointers in the second half proved to be instrumental.
New Best Win
Menlo has taken down a team ranked in the top-10 in three of the four years with Aiona at the helm. Last season in February, the Oaks beat No. 9 Hope International University for what was at the time the best win in program history. In his inaugural season as head coach, the Oaks beat No. 10 Arizona Christian in conference play.
Menlo takes on Westmont College on Saturday at 4 pm in another pivotal game as the Oaks continue chasing a playoff spot in the GSAC.
posted by Menlo Athletics on Jan 31, 2019 at 11:32 pm
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