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MASTER'S MEN ALREADY JELLING IN EARLY GOING.

Byline: Kirby Lee Special to the Daily News

Seniors Mike Penberthy and Leo Gorauskas have been consistent through a challenging preseason for The Master's College men's basketball team.

The rest of the Mustangs' lineup - two freshmen and a sophomore - have also held their own to help The Master's to a 4-2 start.

``I thought Leo and I would have to carry the team through the early part of the season,'' Penberthy said. ``The new players have been learning their roles. The cohesiveness is progressing well.''

Penberthy has picked up where he left off from the past two seasons. In 1994 and 1995 he set single-season and career records in 3-point field goals attempted and made, and in free-throw percentage. His efforts helped The Master's repeat as Far West Independent champion and advance to the NAIA National tournament for the second year in a row.

In his first season moving from shooting guard from point guard, Penberthy is averaging 26.7 points and is shooting 82.9 percent from the free-throw line.

The All-America guard was selected as the most valuable player of the Urbana (Ohio) tournament and named to the all-tournament team in the Cal State Bakersfield event with a 32-point effort in the tournament's final game.

Penberthy is fifth on The Master's all-time scoring list with 1,924 points and is only 455 points shy of the record. He entered Friday night's game at Biola 14 points away from the No. 4 spot.

``Defenses are playing me a lot tighter so it's been challenging,'' Penberthy said. ``It's opened things up and the other players have made them pay.''

Gorauskas and Joclin Julmist have been a force in the middle. Gorauskas, a 6-foot-9 center who earned All-American honorable mention honors as a junior, is averaging 17.0 points. Julmist, a 6-5 freshman forward, averages a team-high 10.8 rebounds.

Freshman point guard Jerome Joseph is averaging 11.2 points and 5.8 assists. Sophomore Sean Davis, a 6-7 transfer from Lambuth University in Tennessee, rounds out the starting lineup at forward.

Junior guard Jon Ordonio and senior forward Reggie Robinson also have received significant playing time off the bench.

Robinson was third on the team with 5.6 rebounds last year but has been slowed by a back injury which has kept him out of practices this week and limited him to 24 minutes in The Master's last game against Cal State Bakersfield. ``If I get double teamed, there are other guys who can pick it up,'' Gorauskas said. ``We have five guys who can score. We hang out together. We get along real well and have good chemistry.''

That has been evident in The Master's showings in the Urbana and Cal State Bakersfield tournaments.

The Mustangs opened the Urbana tournament with a 81-63 victory over Cumberland, the ninth-ranked team in NAIA Division I. In the title game, three starters fouled out but The Master's took Urbana to the wire before falling 91-88.

Competing against NCAA Division II teams in the Bakersfield tournament, The Master's beat the University of Missouri, St. Louis, and stayed close against the 10th-ranked host Roadrunners in a 102-96 defeat.

The Master's beat Fresno-Pacific to start the season, followed by a victory over Westmont, a team that had beaten the Mustangs in 31 of the 34 previous meetings.

On Tuesday night, the Mustangs will play host to Azusa-Pacific, one of just three home games in November and December.

The squad also will travel to Cal Baptist and will compete in the Cal Poly Pomona and Concordia (Irvine) tournaments before returning home against NCAA Division II Cal State Los Angeles on Dec. 30.

``It's much tougher playing on the road but we're learning to deal with adversity,'' said third-year Master's coach Bill Oates. ``We haven't had any easy games and we've done really well. We're trying to get better each time out.''
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 7, 1996
Words:645
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