George Mason basketball blitzes UNC Wilmington in CAA opener

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 5, 2010; 12:06 AM

George MasonUNC Wilmington

Judging by the first nine minutes of a 80-52 flattening of UNC Wilmington on Saturday night, George Mason was going to gather points in standard manners - work the ball inside, score in transition, find a proper shooting range.

But then the Patriots started firing three-pointers. And making three-pointers. The guy tossing T-shirts into the crowd of 5,461 to celebrate each long-distance shot will surely need rotator cuff surgery.

In a dizzying 61/2-minute stretch, the Patriots made 7 of 8 three-pointers, including three in 63 seconds by freshman guard Vertrail Vaughns, to obliterate the Seahawks in the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both teams.

Vaughns (14 points) and senior swingman Isaiah Tate (16) combined to make 8 of 9 three-pointers and set career highs in scoring. In winning their fourth straight, the Patriots (6-2) shot 59 percent in the first half and defeated the Seahawks (3-4) for the ninth time in the past 10 meetings in Fairfax.

George Mason made 7 of 11 three-pointers in the first half and 11 of 21 overall, bettering its free throw success (3 of 7).

"My team believed in me and found me at the right spots at the right time," said Vaughns, who was redshirted last season after appearing briefly in six games. He made 4 of 5 three-pointers against UNCW to improve to 10 of 19 this season.

In describing Vaughns's limits, Coach Jim Larranaga said: "He doesn't know what range means: 'If I'm on the court and I'm open, I am shooting!' "

Shooting aside, Larranaga was pleased with the defense exhibited by Vaughns and the rest of the second unit, which forced a series of turnovers and difficult shots. The past four opponents have shot worse than 38 percent.

"On the defensive end," Tate said, "we were making things happen."

Speaking of Vaughn's improved defense, a beaming Larranaga said: "Did you notice the difference? I guess he wants to play more."

The coaching staff had told him recently that it was pleased with his offensive contributions but needed a better defensive effort.

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