George Mason Men 67, William & Mary 58
These days, George Mason Coach Jim Larranaga is not the one choosing his starters. The Patriots have been so depleted by injuries that he almost has to use whoever is healthy.
But another makeshift lineup helped the Patriots end a three-game losing streak with a 67-58 victory over William & Mary before 7,426 at Patriot Center last night.
The Patriots (9-8, 4-4 Colonial Athletic Association) were without two injured starters and were forced to use an unusual lineup for the third straight game.
Six-foot-7 senior forward Jon Larranaga played point guard because starter Raoul Heinen is out until at least next Saturday because of a dislocated right thumb. Larranaga seemed to thrive in his new role -- he finished with a game-high 22 points and six assists.
Freshman Trent Wurtz also started in place of junior Richard Tynes and covered Tribe junior Adam Hess, the conference's leading scorer. Hess finished with 17 points but took just two shots over the final 17 minutes 55 seconds. Hess also was slowed because the Patriots used a zone defense during a crucial 15-2 run in the final 10 minutes.
"For us to go to a zone is extremely unusual," Patriots Coach Jim Larranaga said. "But this year has been extremely unusual. Normally we only do it if we have a player who is out with an injury. We have had a lot of those this year."
The team's resources are so threadbare that no reserves scored last night.
Dealing with injuries, however, is nothing new for the Patriots. Seven of their 10 players have missed games because of injuries.
Larranaga said using the zone was not his idea. Instead, he got the idea while talking with South Florida Coach Seth Greenberg on the phone yesterday. Greenberg mentioned that his team has played zone because it had so many injuries.
William & Mary led 45-40 following a basket by sophomore Thomas Viglianco with 10:43 to play. The Patriots answered with a 15-2 run and took a 55-47 lead following a free throw by junior Mark Davis with 3:42 left.
A few minutes earlier, Davis stole the ball at midcourt and fed senior Jesse Young (20 points) for a three-point play that gave the Patriots a 48-47 lead and sent the decibel counter at Patriot Center past 100. The Tribe (6-9, 2-5) did not lead again.
"That was great to hear the crowd go nuts," Jon Larranaga said. "Even when you're not playing well, you feel like you are when you hear the crowd."
Senior guard Sherman Rivers (Potomac, Va., High) finished with 16 points and six assists for the Tribe. He also factored in 20 of his team's 28 first-half points: He scored nine points and had five assists, including one on a three-pointer.