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Mustangs never trail in win over Crusaders

MACU 74 Christendom 65

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Mid-Atlantic Christian's Khalil Bolden (with ball) scored 22 points against Christendom, Saturday.

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By David Gough
Sports Writer

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Mid-Atlantic Christian men’s basketball team led from start to finish Saturday afternoon against the Christendom Crusaders in USCAA action.

The Mustangs won 74-65 for just their third win of the season.

It was two freshmen that led the way as forward Daniel Dance and guard Khalil Bolden each scored 22 points.

They both got hot at different times as Dance helped MACU (3-14) separate from Christendom (3-10) in the first half and Bolden helped the Mustangs maintain the lead in the second half.

Dance caught fire in the first 20 minutes with a ton of success from beyond the arc. Four 3-pointers and two baskets inside the perimeter netted him 16 of MACU’s 39 points.

His triples came at important times. From the same corner with under a minute left in the half, he hit two threes and extended the Mustangs’ lead from five to nine by halftime, matching their largest lead of the game up to that point.

He also hit a triple with three minutes to go in the half to end a 12-4 run that got Christendom within one. The Crusaders didn’t get any closer than they were at 27-26.

“(Dance) can really shoot the ball and put the ball in the hole,” MACU coach Allan Harris said. “That’s really the reason he’s here for the most part. We just try to utilize him where he can stretch the defense out and be effective shooting the ball.”

As a team, the Mustangs shot 7-of-19 (36.8 percent) from beyond the arc in the first half.

Bolden had eight points, second most on the team at halftime, but he really turned it on in the second half becoming MACU’s go-to scorer with 14 points in the final 20.

Bolden is a recent addition to the team after playing junior varsity until the beginning of the new semester. Harris noted that he was dealing with an ankle injury earlier this week in practice before coming up big Saturday.

“He’s able to put the team on his shoulders even as a freshman,” Harris said. “He stepped up big and was able to some things that we needed to help us win tonight.”

The 39-30 halftime advantage the Mustangs held quickly grew in the second half to an 18-point lead with a little over 12 minutes left.

But Christendom answered a 14-2 MACU run with its own 16-4 run to get back within six and make the Mustangs sweat a little.

Once the score reached 63-57, however, MACU was able to stem the tide and hold on for its largest win of the season.

“That’s the one thing with having a young team and a team that’s still trying to figure it out,” Harris said. “You get relaxed and start getting away from the game plan… Called a timeout and said to the guys that we have to regroup. Have to be focused and concentrate.

“For the most part, we did enough to sustain it to the point where we were able to get the win.”

Senior forward Alex Stanley was big down the stretch scoring nine of his 10 points Saturday in the second half.

Harris also credited the ability to only allow three rebounds to Christendom’s big man Owen Kennedy. Kennedy scored 29 points on 13-of-21 shooting.

The Mustangs outrebounded the Crusaders by 10 in the game with all the difference coming on the offensive glass. MACU had 18 offensive rebounds.

“It makes a big difference when we can grab some rebounds and put the ball in play,” Harris said.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Christendom 44, Mid-Atlantic Christian 43: The Lady Mustangs (3-12) were one wide-open made shot away from winning Saturday afternoon.

Trailing by one with 3.3 seconds left and a chance to inbound the ball from underneath their own basket, MACU freshman Imani Simmons found herself open with the ball on the left elbow and a great shooting opportunity.

It just didn’t go in.

“Sometimes you make them and sometimes you don’t,” MACU coach Charles Troxell said.

“She got a great look at it. She’ll keep working and make the next one for us.”

The Lady Mustangs had just taken the lead nearly three minutes prior, on an Amanda Lemons layup, for the first time since it was 2-0.

It was, however, Christendom’s Mercy Wilson who ended up with the game-winner on a jumper with 42 seconds to go.

The shot from Wilson, who led everyone on the floor with 16 points and 19 rebounds, ended a streak of nine consecutive misses and nearly six minutes without points by the Lady Crusaders (3-6).

During that time, MACU fought back from an eight-point deficit and went on an 11-2 run to take the lead. The Lady Mustangs did that with only five active players who had already played a full 40 minutes in a Friday night loss.

“Win or lose, you can’t be prouder of five ladies who every one of them just played 80 minutes a piece in less than 24 hours,” Troxell said. “Back-to-back games with no subs, nobody giving them a break, and they kept fighting. I wouldn’t have been prouder even had they won this game.”

The roster did have multiple possible substitutes earlier this season, but different reasons, including illness, since the spring semester started have limited them to just five players.

The eight-point deficit they faced in the fourth quarter wasn’t the first obstacle they overcame in the game.

Christendom went on an early 14-0 run to go up 14-2, but the Lady Mustangs managed to tie it at 24-24 before going into halftime trailing by just two.

“They just have a lot of heart,” Troxell said. That’s all you can attribute it to. They worked hard. I didn’t do or say anything fancy, they just worked hard and got themselves back into the game. They have a lot of character.”

Simmons finished with 14 points in the game, while Lemons finished with 11 in MACU’s sixth straight loss.

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