Starting the season by hosting the Jocelyn Mancebo Classic the Mustangs opened the season in dominating fashion as they defeated Big 8 rival Sierra 80-61 in the championship game last Sunday afternoon.
“It’s exciting that we beat them and beat a Big 8 rival,” said head coach Gina Johnson after the championship game win. “They are always a tough team to play and we learned some things that we need to work on because we had some struggles but I am excited about moving forward and getting better.”
Struggling with their transition defense in the opening quarter the young Mustangs squad found themselves trailing after the first quarter 28-22 before the game went into halftime tied 38-38.
Despite dealing with foul trouble the Mustangs took control after halftime as they outscored the Wolverines 30-12 in the third quarter on the way to the 19-point win.
Donja Payne led the way with a double-double as she scored 22 points and grabbed ten rebounds. Freshman Alicia Jones added 19 points while Sarah Ruiz came off the bench and scored ten points.
In a tournament that featured three of the top five teams in the CCCWBCA North Region preseason poll the Mustangs, ranked third, made a case for their ranking being too low as No. 2 Merced lost earlier in the tournament to No. 4 Sierra.
Earlier in the tournament, the Mustangs defeated Merritt 111-34 and Feather River 115-51. In the season-opening win over Merritt it was Vanessa Cochrane who led the scoring off the bench as she scored a game-high 28 points and was one of six Mustangs’ to score in double figures.
Cochrane also had a big second game once again coming off the bench with 23 points while Alicia Jones scored a game-high 27.
They will be back in action at the Sky Jag Tournament in the Bay Area on Nov. 15 where they will take on Lassen.