Richmond, VA -- George Washington looked like the likely A-10 Champions all year long, especially when they ripped off a 14 game win streak during the middle of the season. But after a drop-off in intensity during the last few games of the season where they went 2-2, losing to VCU and St. Bonaventure, and barely eeking out a win against Richmond, some wondered which Colonials squad would show up for the tournament.
Well, the defending champs haven't left much up for debate during the first half of their quarterfinal matchup against George Mason, with the halftime score in the Colonials' favor, 25-40. The Patriots haven't led since eight minutes were left in the first quarter, and they will need a much better performance from the field to close the gap.
After shooting 37% from three against Dayton in yesterday's game, the Patriots can't find the bottom of the net from distance, making only one of their 11 shots. For the first few minutes of the second quarter, Mason tried to counter their poor shooting by picking up the pace; unfortunately, they played right into the Colonials' hands, as George Washington ran them for nine straight fast break points.
After yesterday's 25 point performance, Taylor Brown has only made one of her nine shots, leaving Kara Wright to pick up the slack for the Patriots; she leads the team with 12. Meanwhile, Caira Washington leads for George Washington, also with 12 points.
Last year's A-10 Player and Defensive Player of the year Jonquel Jones registered limited minutes during the second half, still on a restriction from her mid-January injury. Jones might not be leading the Colonial's in points, but her seven rebounds are indicative of the urgency she plays with on the court.
Mason has dispatched forward Tayler Dodson and her physical brand of defense to help neutralize Jones's impact; the second half will tell if those adjustments pay off.
It was a going to take a monumental effort for George Mason to knock off the defending A-10 champs after the Colonials ran them to a 25 point lead. And though the effort might have been there, the results were not; George Washington ended the Patriots' season with a 78-48 win, moving on to the conference semifinals.
Mason came out of the halftime break swinging, shooting much better from the floor. Taylor Brown sunk her only three-pointer of the game with five minutes left in the quarter, bringing Mason within 10 for the first time since the opening minutes of the second quarter.
However, coming out of the ensuing timeout, George Washington decided enough was enough. They scored the game's next 12 points, capitalized by two straight three-point plays from Jonquel Jones to stretch the lead back to double digits for good.