Despite having more points off turnovers and out-rebounding the Blue Jays of Elizabethtown, the Mustangs lost 80-69 on Nov. 15 in their road opener.
Leading the Mustang offense was freshman guard Cameron Hayes, who had 20 points, 5 rebounds and a steal. Junior forward Cliff Cornish also had a strong performance with 15 points, 8 rebounds, an assist and a steal as he helped the Mustangs generate 34 points in the paint.
In the first round of the fifth annual Hoopsville National Invitational Classic on Nov. 18, the Mustangs lost to Lynchburg 101-80. The Hornets dominated the stat sheet, as they were 37-73 from the floor versus the Mustangs’ 26-72.
Coming into to the matchup, Lynchburg was 1-0 with a victory over Johns Hopkins. The Hornets are also receiving votes in the D3hoops.com top-25 preseason poll.
“The trouble with getting a field [teams for the Hoopsville National Invitational Classic] is that we then realize that we have to play two of the teams for the event,” said Mustangs’ head coach Gary Stewart.
This year’s Hoopsville National Invitational Classic included five teams that were in the NCAA Division III tournament the year prior.
“It’s a terrific field,” said Stewart. “It’s highlighted by Wisconsin-Stevens Point, who has won four national championships. Then there’s Christopher Newport, who’s ranked high in the top-25, followed by the rest of the teams who are coming off strong seasons, that nobody wants to play.”
In the second round of Hoopsville, the Mustangs lost to Skidmore 81-70, who, just like Lynchburg, are receiving votes in the D3hoops.com top-25 poll.
For a third consecutive game, the Mustangs had a different leading scorer as junior guard Tim McNeal led the team with 14 points.
Despite returning only five players from the prior year, the team is optimistic that they can grow and win together.
“We know it’s going to take some time for us to mesh since there are so many new faces this year,” said junior guard Steven Zink. “We are figuring it out every day, and we’re finding a way to work together.”
The Mustangs hope to avoid a consecutive 0-4 start to the season as they return to action Nov. 26 to host Penn State Berks.
The Mustangs then close a four-game home stand as they host Albright on Nov. 30. The Lions will be the first Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) foe for the Mustangs in 2016-17.