George Mason can't stop Sydnor and falls to Radford in state semifinals

By James Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 11, 2011; 11:25 PM

RICHMOND - All season long, the 20th-ranked George Mason girls' basketball team had one attribute that many of its opponents lacked: a strong interior game. In Friday afternoon's Virginia A Division 2 semifinal at VCU's Siegel Center, however, the Mustangs more than met their match in Radford forward Maryah Sydnor.

The 6-foot-1 Sydnor racked up an eye-popping 40 points and 12 rebounds en route to a 63-36 toppling of George Mason, ending the school's bid to become the first Virginia A girls' team to win three straight state titles.

After hanging tough in the first quarter and trailing by only five points, the Mustangs, who admitted they underestimated Radford's standout senior, began unraveling.

"We really didn't understand how good she was going to be and it was difficult to compete with that," said sophomore forward Stephanie Cheney, the Region B player of the year who managed only eight points, nearly 11 under her season average. "And once she started scoring, I mean, it's hard to stop someone who is on a roll."

The Mustangs (23-6) could do little offensively to keep up with Radford (24-4) and struggled to establish an interior game with the 6-foot Cheney and 5-foot-10 freshman center Ashley Alexander. Freshman guard Claire Trevisan added eight points.

George Mason went scoreless for the six final minutes of the second quarter and shot 11 for 35 from the field for the game.

The result was truly unusual and uncomfortable for the Mustangs.

"I've never lost before here," Cheney said. "And all I know is that I really don't want to do it again because it feels horrible, and good thing I'm going to be back next year because we can't let this happen again. I can't even describe the feeling. It's awful."

© 2011 The Washington Post Company