Reprinted from yesterday's late edition
Saddled with a basketball team suffering from the flu. George Wahington tried for a quick knockout over George Mason last night.
The Colonials achieved it with their full-court press and fast break, opening a 21-point lead late in the first half. GW coach Bob Tallent called off the press with a 23-point lead and 13 minutes to play and Mason battled back to lose by only nine points, 78-69, at GW's Smith Center.
Mason could not handle GW's pressure. The Patriots had 24 of their turnovers while GW was employing its 2-2-1 zone press.
"We have fumbled and bumbled like that too long," said Mason coach John Linn, whose team is 6-10 without losing a game by more than nine points. "That's the best way I can describe it. We've been hesitant all year, we've got a young team."
Guard Bob Lindsay and center Mike Zagardo again displayed the outside-inside scoring punch that the Colonials had been missing until the last four games of this 10-5 season. Lindsay led GW with 24 points on 10-to-15 shooting and Zagardo added 17, many on short book shots.
Only against Villanova, with the first effects of the flu, has Lindsay lately failed to launch the outside shots that Tallent had wanted all along.
"It's a lot easier once that happens," said Zagardo, a questionable starter because of the flu. "When he's shooting like he can, they've got to play him honest.
"And not too many people play good defense sown low (near the basket). They play behind you. I don't know why."
That enabled Zagardo to toss in some nifty little hook shots. GW got 16 points that way, plus 13 more following offensive rebounds in taking a 45-30 lead at intermission.
At one stretch, GW ran off 13 unanswered points.
Except for the Villanova game, GW's only loss in its last five, Lindsay contributed 23 points on 11-of-19 shooting against Rutgers and 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting against Catholic U.
It is not coincidence that Zagardo, lefthanded sophomore, scored so regularly in those two games.
"When Lindsay's hitting his shot, everything goes pretty smoothly," Zagardo said.
Lindsay always has been a good shooter. Why wasn't he shooting more?
"I really feel comfortable now," he said. "It took a long time to get that feeling and gain confidence in my shot. It was always there. When I miss, I don't feel hesitant to put it up again. I feel good."
Four of GW's top six players are suffering from the flu. The most hacking that went on last night was in the GW locker room at halftime, Tallent said he had to yell to be heard above all the coughing.
Tallent wanted to rest team captain Les Anderson and Zagardo as much as he could. But when George Mason drew within eight points with four minutes to paly, Anderson and Zagardo were in there as the Colonials tried to survive.
Keith Lewis, a transfer from Chicago Loyola via Wilson High School, got the Patriots on the road back with a couple neat baseline drives. At this point, Mason players lost the tightness that had hampered them earlier.
"In the last 13 minutes) we proved to ourselves we could go out there and play a good basketball team," said Linn. "Lewis had a lot to do with it. Everybody loosened up, and we started to play much better."