George Mason failed to seize its chance to end its long streak of futility against Colonial Athletic Association rival Old Dominion. Deviating from a strategy that proved successful in the first half, the Patriots lost, 73-69, to the Lady Monarchs yesterday before 2,771 -- the third-largest crowd to watch a women's game at Patriot Center.
The loss was George Mason's 30th straight to Old Dominion (6-5, 3-0), which has won 11 straight CAA titles and 142 of its last 143 conference games.
Losing to Old Dominion is "like my life story," George Mason guard Jen Derevjanik said. "We've got to get over that mountain."
George Mason (5-5, 2-1), which lost to Old Dominion in overtime last season, 68-63, in the CAA tournament semifinals, had the Lady Monarchs reeling early. The Patriots came out aggressive, attacking the basket on offense and forcing turnovers on defense.
Although they weren't shooting the ball very well, George Mason made up for it by drawing fouls and making free throws. George Mason missed 23 of its first 31 shots but went 12 of 13 from the foul line. The Patriots also forced Old Dominion to turn the ball over 16 times before halftime.
Considering its two leading scorers, Derevjanik and Vernessa Neamo, were a combined 1 of 12 from the field at the half, it was surprising George Mason led by as much as 10 before going into halftime ahead 31-27. Shelbylynn McBride picked up the scoring slack, doubling her season high by halftime (12 points). She finished with 17.
In the second half, however, George Mason got away from attacking the basket and began to settle for jump shots. Jump shots that did not reach their mark. George Mason missed 16 of its first 19 field goal attempts of the second half.
"When you're up by 10, you need to get up by 12 and 14," George Mason Coach Debbie Taneyhill said. "Certainly, with a team like Old Dominion, you can't let them back into the game. I thought we came out in the second half and we did not play with the same intensity that we left the floor with in the first half."
The Patriots' lead evaporated quickly, and with 8 minutes 48 seconds to play, Kim Giddens converted a three-point play to put Old Dominion ahead 55-44.
George Mason wasn't about to go quietly, however. Derevjanik, whose first basket didn't come until 13:41 remained, started the Patriots comeback. Her three-pointer with 8:36 remaining sparked a run that cut the Lady Monarchs' lead to 61-57 with 4:18 left to play, before the Old Dominion scored on four straight possessions to push the lead back to nine.
Laura Kooij, who finished with 15 points, sank a three-point basket with just less than 11/2 minutes remaining to cut Old Dominion's lead to 69-66 and George Mason couldn't get any closer. The Patriots missed two shots and turned the ball over once in the final stretch.
* MARYLAND 75, WAKE FOREST 73: The Terrapins earned their first ACC road win since Feb. 19, 2001, as freshman guard Chrissy Fisher made 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch in Winston-Salem, N.C. Renneika Razor scored a game-high 17 points for Maryland (8-7, 2-2).
Tiffani Alston and Eafton Hill led Wake Forest (10-4, 1-3) with 15 each.
* GEORGE WASHINGTON 59, TEMPLE 57: Colonials forward Anna Montanana had 18 points and 14 rebounds in Philadelphia. GW is 8-5, 2-0 Atlantic 10.
Temple (5-9, 1-2) was led by Candice Dupree's 18 points.
* N.C. STATE 50, VIRGINIA 49: Wolfpack junior Terah James's 15-foot jump shot with two seconds left was the difference for N.C. State (7-8, 2-2 ACC) in Raleigh, N.C.
The Cavaliers (5-9, 0-4) are off to their worst start ever in the conference.