For the past three years, the sixth-seeded team in the Colonial Athletic Association women's tournament has upset the No. 3 seed in the quarterfinals. George Mason had hoped to make it four in a row, but it was not to be.
The Patriots' rally in the final two minutes fell short as they lost to Drexel, 53-49, in a quarterfinal game before 1,755 at Patriot Center last night.
_____Who's In_____ These teams have earned automatic bids to the NCAA tournament:
• Alcorn State (SWAC)
• Baylor (Big 12)
• Bowling Green (Mid-American)
• Canisius (Metro Atlantic)
• Connecticut (Big East)
• Coppin State (MEAC)
• Dartmouth (Ivy League)
• Eastern Kentucky (Ohio Valley)
• Hartford (America East)
• Holy Cross (Patriot)
• Illinois State (Missouri Valley)
• Liberty (Big South)
• Michigan State (Big Ten)
• Middle Tennessee State (Sun Belt)
• Montana (Big Sky)
• New Mexico (Mountain West)
• North Carolina (ACC)
• Old Dominion (CAA)
• Oral Roberts (Mid-Continent)
• Rice (WAC)
• Saint Francis, Pa. (Northeast)
• Santa Clara (West Coast)
• Stanford (Pacific-10)
• Stetson (Atlantic Sun)
• Temple (Atlantic 10)
• Tennessee (Southeastern)
• Texas Christian (Conference USA)
• Texas-Arlington (Southland)
• UC Santa Barbara (Big West)
• Western Carolina (Southern)
• Wisconsin-Green Bay (Horizon)
The Dragons (19-9) advanced to tonight's semifinal game against No. 2 Old Dominion (20-8), an 87-68 winner over Hofstra.
After trailing 48-40 with 2 minutes 23 seconds left, George Mason (12-16) pulled to 48-45 on Lauren Hediger's three-pointer, her second of the game. Kira Karlstrom's free throw extended Drexel's lead to four. Keyhana Wakefield answered with a jump shot and the Patriots were back within two.
"Everything just seemed to start going our way," Wakefield said. "We were running that one option. It kept going our way, so we kept going to it."
George Mason went to a full-court press, forcing the Dragons into a turnover. Moni Akintunde (Laurel) made a layup to tie the score at 49 with 36 seconds left.
Katrina Martin (Elizabeth Seton), a first-team all-CAA selection, made a layup to put Drexel back in front with seven seconds remaining. Martin, the third-leading scorer in the league at 16.2 points per game, had missed 9 of 12 shots before that basket. Martin finished with nine points.
The Patriots had one final chance to force overtime. Wakefield, running downcourt, caught the long inbounds pass but was unable to convert. Tracy Ann Holness fouled Karlstrom, who made a pair of free throws for the final margin.
George Mason, which is hosting the tournament for the first time in school history, had hoped home court would be an advantage against Drexel. The Dragons entered the game 0-4 at Patriot Center and had lost, 46-44, to the Patriots here a week ago.
The familiar rims were not enough to bolster George Mason's shooting. The Patriots have struggled to score most of the season, and last night was no different. They made just 39 percent of their shots. It wasn't until 2:02 remained in the game that Wakefield became the first George Mason player to score in double digits. Wakefield finished with 16 points. Hediger added 10.
"The same problems that we've had all year plagued us all night," George Mason Coach Debbie Taneyhill said.
Taneyhill was particularly unhappy that the Patriots made only 12 of 24 free throws.
HOWARD 54, UMES 42: Despite shooting 13 percent in the second half, the fourth-seeded Bison (17-11) advanced to the semifinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament in Richmond. Daisha Hicks had 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals for Howard, which will play top seed Coppin State at noon today. Kristi Veltkamp had 12 points for Maryland-Eastern Shore (12-16).
BAYLOR 58, TEXAS TECH 57: Chelsea Whitaker's layup with 2.1 seconds to go lifted the sixth-ranked Bears (26-3) over the No. 14 Lady Raiders (22-7) in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo.
KANSAS STATE 72, TEXAS 69: Twiggy McIntyre scored a career-high 19 points, and the No. 17 Wildcats held on to beat the 11th-ranked Longhorns in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament.
Kansas State (23-6) trailed 65-58 with 4:02 to go before McIntyre scored on a layup and then made a three-pointer to start the Wildcats' rally.
Tiffany Jackson had 24 points and nine rebounds for Texas (21-8).