George Mason Defeats Mount St. Mary's in Men's College Basketball

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

George Mason's John Vaughan scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half, including a three-pointer with a minute left to help repel a final rally by Mount St. Mary's last night. But truth be told, the senior guard's defense on Jeremy Goode was perhaps his most important contribution after halftime of the 72-60 victory in front of 5,512 at Patriot Center.

Goode scored 17 first-half points, but with Vaughan pestering him and the Patriots administering an aggressive defense, he had just five in the second half. Mason turned a two-point deficit into an 13-point lead, then took advantage of the Mountaineers' dreadful free throw shooting to earn its fourth victory in five games.

"Our defense was pretty solid in the first half except for the Goode character," said Vaughan, who made 6 of 7 shots in the second half. "We tried to get the ball out of Goode's hands as much as possible and make them take some tough shots without Goode getting the ball back once they got it over half court."

Vaughan received ample offensive support from forwards Darryl Monroe, Louis Birdsong and Ryan Pearson, who combined for 34 points on 15-of-23 shooting and 21 rebounds. The Patriots shot 68 percent in the second half -- largely the result of stout defense creating easy baskets -- and held the Mountaineers (1-2) to two field goals in the last six minutes.

The Mountaineers, picked to repeat as Northeast Conference champions, surged to an early eight-point lead. Mason needed almost 12 minutes to go ahead, but after Monroe's tap with 12 seconds left, Goode swished a fadeaway three-pointer under pressure at the buzzer for a 29-27 advantage.

"It took us kind of a while to get into the groove of what was working," Patriots Coach Jim Larranaga said.

Goode, a 5-foot-9 guard, was at it again on Mount's first possession of the second half, driving for a layup and converting a free throw, but the Patriots responded with a 17-4 run to seize a 47-36 lead. Vaughan started it with a free throw and capped it with a three-pointer, but team defense was the key with three steals, which set up several transition baskets.

Pearson (14 points in 15 minutes) thwarted a pair of Mountaineers runs, but despite missing seven consecutive free throws and shooting 3 of 12 from the line in the second half, they pulled to 63-60 with about three minutes left on a three-pointer by Paul VI Catholic graduate Jean Cajou (16 points).

The Patriots, though, forced two misses and two turnovers, Cam Long made an 18-footer and Vaughan followed with two free throws and his third three-pointer.

ยท NAVY 76, MD.-EASTERN SHORE 51: Chris Harris scored 21 points to lead the Midshipmen (4-1) at home.

Harris scored 18 points during a 32-6 run, which saw Navy turn a 23-21 deficit into a 53-29 lead with 12 minutes 24 seconds to play.

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