Jen Derevjanik scored 26 points on 12-of-14 shooting to lead George Mason to a 79-54 victory over Towson in a Colonial Athletic Association game before 1,066 at Patriot Center last night.
Vernessa Neamo was almost as hot as her teammate, finishing with 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Derevjanik and Neamo were a big reason George Mason (13-11, 10-7) shot a season-high 53 percent.
The Patriots' torrid shooting was the result of George Mason's tenacious defense.
By disrupting Towson's offense, the Patriots got their hands on numerous Tigers passes. The Patriots then converted those turnovers into layups and outscored the Tigers 40-24 in the lane.
"For the past month, we've been emphasizing defense," Neamo said. "The first time we played Towson our defense wasn't great. So this time we made sure we came out with a better team effort, especially ball pressure and weak-side help."
The Patriots recently have been doing a better job shutting down their opponent's offense, holding four of their past six opponents to a field goal percentage of less than 35 percent. Towson (3-23, 2-15), which hasn't beaten the Patriots in 10 tries, shot 34 percent.
Moreover, George Mason didn't allow the Tigers many shots. The Patriots attempted 22 more shots than Towson and made 20 more field goals.
Derevjanik, who struggling with her shot heading into last night's game, found her rhythm quickly. Her first attempt -- a pull-up jumper off a fast break -- dropped cleanly through the net. From that point on, nearly everything fell for her.
"The past couple games I haven't been shooting well at all," Derevjanik said. "I was just trying to stay confident. I knew finally I'd get a break. It was just falling tonight."
Derevjanik never forced a shot. She also had nice assists on baskets by Shelbylynn McBride and Khalilah Smith (10 points).
Laura Kooij, who hadn't played since undergoing left wrist surgery Feb. 7, saw action for the first time in seven games. Kooij played eight minutes and made a three-pointer and a layup.
With one regular season game remaining, George Mason already has clinched a spot in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 seed game in the conference tournament, which begins March 12 at Old Dominion. The Patriots will play James Madison.
* MIAMI 73, GEORGETOWN 71: The Hoyas' Mary Lisicky tied the score at 64 on a three-pointer with 2 minutes 32 seconds remaining, but the host Hurricanes (16-11, 8-8 Big East) pulled away on a jumper and a three-pointer by Chanivia Broussard, who scored a team-high 20 points.
Rebekkah Brunson led the Hoyas (15-12, 6-10) with 24 points and 12 rebounds.
* VIRGINIA TECH 69, ST. JOHN'S 53: Chrystal Starling scored a game-high 20 points and Carrie Mason added 16 to lead the Hokies (19-8, 10-6 Big East) in Jamaica, N.Y. Shamika Stevens led St. John's (8-19, 2-14) with 14 points.