George Mason Women 63,
George Washington 57
Though victory was already ensured, George Mason point guard Jen Derevjanik crashed into her shooting guard and roommate, Vernessa Neamo, while going for the same steal in the final seconds of the Patriots' 63-57 upset of No. 21 George Washington at Smith Center last night.
After blowing two second-half leads early this season, most notably in an overtime loss to Georgetown, Derevjanik and Neamo were leaving nothing to chance.
"All I saw was the ball," Neamo said. "I definitely didn't see Jen."
Neamo, a DuVal High graduate, finished with a game-high 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting. Derevjanik, a tough junior from Staten Island, hurled herself around the court for 16 points and perhaps as many bruises.
"I was willing to do whatever it took to win this game," said Derevjanik.
It was the Patriots' first victory over a ranked opponent in six years, and came despite being outrebounded 50-39 and shooting 34 percent.
George Washington "played atrocious on offense," according to Coach Joe McKeown.
The Colonials (4-2) shot 41 percent and turned the ball over 24 times.
The team's main weapons, center Ugo Oha and shooting guard Cathy Joens, were unable to make an impact. Oha scored 14 points, the bulk of which came after the game was decided, and Joens scored seven on 2-for-15 shooting, including making 1 of 12 three-point attempts.
"I bet she could make 2 of 12 left-handed," McKeown said.
Oha missed the final nine minutes of the first half because of foul trouble, and was unable to assert herself in the second half, hitting a pair of jumpers but remaining silent otherwise until the final minutes.
Though the Patriots (3-2) did nothing designed specifically to stop Joens, the Colonials' leading scorer who averaged 19 points entering last night, they acknowledged she was their main focus defensively.
"We could stop that better than we could stop Ugo," Patriots Coach Debbie Taneyhill said. "We said, 'We'll give you two but we're not going to give you three.' "
George Mason built a 10-point lead eight minutes into the second half. Even with Oha and Joens struggling, the Colonials managed to cut the margin to 47-42 four minutes later, but no one was able to pick up the slack.
The Colonials had four consecutive possessions that could have brought the game closer. They turned the ball over three times and Oha missed the front end of a one-and-one on the other.
"I thought we had them on their heels then," McKeown said. "But we just couldn't score when we had to."