By James Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 10, 2011; 11:51 PM
RICHMOND - The George Mason boys' basketball team's best season in a decade came to an end Thursday night in the Virginia A Division 2 state semifinals, a 67-31 loss to defending champion James River that saw the Mustangs' up-tempo offense stifled.
George Mason (22-6), which entered averaging more than 70 points per game and is predicated on pace, ball control and dead-eye shooting, was out of sync almost all night at VCU's Siegel Center.
Except for a three-minute stretch late in the first quarter, James River easily controlled the game. After missing its first five shots, many of them short jumpers, and falling behind 9-0, George Mason used a 7-1 run fueled by junior point guard Noel Obusan's fastbreak layup and three-pointer.
But quickly, James River (23-6) reasserted itself with crisper passing and sharper shooting. By halftime, James River had built a 37-18 lead thanks to 15-of-30 shooting. George Mason, which won the Region B title and was playing in its first state tournament since 2001, made only five of its 22 first-half shots.The Mustangs shot just over 20 percent for the game.
Said Coach Chris Capannola: "We couldn't throw the ball into the ocean. . . . It's been three months since we've shot the ball like that."
George Mason players said they struggled with their opponent's zone defense, which held the Mustangs to just 1 of 14 from three-point range. The lack of an inside game and the unfamiliar venue also had George Mason in a funk.
"Nerves were definitely a part of it," Stewart said. "I think these guys were really lanky and long and stuff. I was trying to get my shot off quick and that was my downfall."
James River's Chris Ware lead all scorers with 18 points.
|JAMES RIVER||GEORGE MASON|