It had been a while since Karli Mast played on the floor at the Gilmor Center.
The fifth-year senior, who missed most of last season due to injury, had a team-best 17 points to go with five rebounds as Tiffin University won its home opener over Wheeling Jesuit, 85-78.
The Dragons improved to 2-0 this season
Tiffin’s Deidre McKay gets inside of Wheeling Jesuit’s Kylie Frizell (32) and Taneka Lewis (13) for a basket to open up Saturday’s game at the Gilmor Center.
"It was a long road back, but definitely happy to be here, blessed to have another year of eligibility," Mast said. "Always a blessing to step out on the floor."
Mast looked just fine Saturday, making 6 of 14 shots from the field, including three 3s.
"Sometimes it clicks," Mast said. "Tonight, it felt good, and sometimes you just have to go with it. Tonight was one of those nights."
Tiffin coach Pam Oswald said she's happy to have Mast back.
"It was great to be able to see Karli back on this floor," Oswald said. "I think she just continues to lead the team with that confidence with all the younger kids."
It was a game, and it likely will be a year, where the "younger kids" will be counted on immensely. Tiffin started a pair of freshmen Saturday - center Bre Nauman and guard Deidre McKay. Nauman finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, while McKay put up 14 points, six assists and five rebounds. Another freshman, Katie Miller, came off the bench for 11 points.
Miller came up big at a crucial time.
Wheeling Jesuit and Tiffin went back and forth for much of the second half, with the Dragons clinging to a 65-63 lead after a jumper from Cardinal Alex Anderson with 7:43 left.
Miller responded with a 3 from the left wing, then, after a stop, drove for a layup and was fouled. She made the free throw, and TU went up 71-63 at the seven-minute mark.
"Katie is a spark for us," Oswald said. "She's kind of like a defensive specialist, and she's also a person who can look to make things happen. That's what we want her to be able to do."
Wheeling Jesuit (1-1) was led by Breanna Butler, who had 16 points, and Taneka Lewis, who had 12.
The Dragons once again controlled the boards, particularly in the second half. The Dragons had 53 overall rebounds, the Cardinals 39.
"To me, it's got to be one of those things where we consistently give (the opponent) one time to take a shot," Oswald said. "If they don't make it, then the possession has to go to us."
Everyone who played for TU Saturday had at least two boards. Six players had at least four, with Jillian Adams grabbing six rebounds to go with eight points.
Clyde graduate Rachael Smetzler, a Clyde graduate, made three free throws in seven minutes for the Cardinals.