Patriots Come Up Short on Offense

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 11, 2007

Jim Larranaga has had enough.

"They will see an entirely different side of me and my personality these next few weeks because these performances are totally unacceptable to me and our program," Larranaga steamed following George Mason's 68-60 loss to Hofstra before 7,800 at Patriot Center yesterday, sending the Patriots (13-12, 7-8 Colonial Athletic Association) to their third consecutive loss and fifth in seven games.

"I don't know if our guys are feeling sorry for themselves, but I guarantee you there's nobody in our league feeling sorry for George Mason right now. Everybody's loving seeing us."

The obvious sources of Larranaga's disgust were 34 percent shooting overall, 25 percent accuracy from three-point range and a clumsily executed half-court offense. But there also were little things that got to him, such as in the first half when he inserted forward Chris Fleming and then yanked him out seconds later because he didn't think Fleming was prepared to play.

Once again, Larranaga watched his frontline players handle the bulk of the work and his guards either pass up opportunities or miss badly on open shots. Will Thomas and Darryl Monroe forged a presence in the lane, but with perimeter players Folarin Campbell, John Vaughan, Dre Smith, Jordan Carter and Gabe Norwood combining to shoot 8 of 35, the Pride (19-7, 12-3) sat back in its zone and collapsed on Mason's big men.

Campbell, one of two returning starters from last year's Final Four team, led the Patriots with 14 points, but shot just 4 of 16 and made 1 of 7 three-point attempts.

"It's just individual confidence," said Campbell, who shot 1 of 9 overall at Virginia Commonwealth on Thursday. "We're playing good defense to win games; we're just not scoring."

Assessing his team's shooting, Larranaga said: "Some of the quality of shots we got tonight not only are makeable, they are almost gimmes. . . . Our players need to take responsibility for finishing off these plays, and they're going to find out on Monday how serious I am about that."

Vaughan, the team's third-leading scorer, entered the game in a 1-for-16 funk and missed his first four against Hofstra before nailing a three-pointer midway through the second half to give the Patriots a 44-42 lead. Over the next nine minutes, however, Vaughan's driving basket was Mason's only field goal as the Pride embarked on a 21-6 run to build a 63-50 advantage.

The Patriots scrambled in the final minute to get within four, but Carlos Rivera made four free throws to clinch it for the Pride, which beat Mason for the fourth straight time despite shooting 38.2 percent overall and making 6 of 24 three-pointers. Antoine Agudio had 23 points and Loren Stokes scored 16 of his 18 in the second half, snapping a nine-game streak of at least 20 points.

"We just had a little bit more firepower," said Tom Pecora, who, in his sixth season coaching Hofstra, earned his 100th victory.

Although the Patriots lead the CAA in field goal percentage, they have been well off target the past week against the league's top teams.

They shot 34 percent against Old Dominion and did not score in overtime, 36 percent against VCU and, in this miserable three-game stretch, made just 9 of 41 three-pointers.

· NAVY 70, LAFAYETTE 63: Greg Sprink scored 29 points and the Midshipmen made 8 of 10 shots from the line in the final minutes for a victory over the Leopards.

Kaleo Kina added 10 points for visiting Navy (13-12, 3-7 Patriot League). Matt Betley had 16 points for Lafayette (8-17, 2-8).

· DELAWARE STATE 59, HOWARD 40: Hornets junior Roy Bright scored a game-high 16 points, while senior Will Gant led the host Bison (8-16, 4-8 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) with 12 points. This was Howard's second loss to Delaware State (13-11, 10-2) this season.

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