East Carolina 76,
George Mason Women 69
Of all the numbers on the stat sheet, the ones George Mason Coach Debbie Taneyhill noted most were rebounds.
East Carolina's significant advantage in that category was a big reason the Pirates defeated the Patriots, 76-69, in a nonconference game before 360 at Patriot Center last night. East Carolina outrebounded George Mason 48-31 and grabbed 19 offensive rebounds.
"This is my concern," Taneyhill said. "Our defense is more of a concern than our offense because 69 [points] should be okay. That should be enough points to get you a victory. But getting beat on the boards 48-31 and you're letting somebody have 26 [points] and 12 [rebounds], that's not what we need to do defensively. . . . Our rebounding has to get better or we're going to continue to struggle."
Jennifer Jackson had 26 points -- nearly double her season average -- and 12 rebounds to lead East Carolina (6-5). Jen Derevjanik scored 20 points for George Mason (3-4).
Sophomore Laura Kooij, who scored a season-high 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting, was one of the few bright spots for the Patriots. After missing most of last season with a left knee injury, Kooij sat out the early part of this season with a back injury. She has slowly worked herself back into the form she showed last season, when she scored 41 points against Chattanooga.
"The more healthy I am the more confident I am in my body, the more I can do," Kooij said. "I'm not as hesitant as I was in the beginning and afraid to push off."
East Carolina, which had not scored for nearly four minutes to open the second half, began its rally when Jackson made a three-pointer with 16 minutes 7 seconds to play.
Derevjanik's layup on the Patriots' next possession was the last field goal George Mason made for the next five minutes. The Pirates scored 10 consecutive points to take a 43-40 lead.
George Mason kept the game close until the very end, but failed to come up with the rebounds. East Carolina went to the free throw line 18 more times than the Patriots and scored 21 of its points off foul shots. But Taneyhill didn't blame the officiating for the disparity. She cited her team's poor rebounding.
"When you get offensive rebounds a lot of times you stick it back and then you get fouled," she said.
"We don't do that. We only get offensive rebounds, quite honestly, if it bounces out [to the perimeter]. We don't get them banging in the post. We don't do that. That's how you get to the foul line."