George Mason entered Thursday’s game with VCU as the best offensive rebounding team in the Atlantic 10, but the Patriots had no use for second-chance points on this day.
Their first attempts did enough damage.
George Mason shot well over 50 percent from the field for much of the game but settled for 47.8 percent (22 of 46) by the end of a 65-42 victory over the Rams at the Siegel Center.
The Rams were disjointed offensively, leading to several prolonged scoring droughts. The two most notable, however, came in the second quarter — when the Patriots utilized a 13-2 run to take control — and in the fourth quarter — when the Rams went scoreless over the final 5:09 as George Mason put the game to bed.
VCU (6-19, 3-10), features arguably the youngest roster in the A-10 with three freshman starters and eight total freshmen in the rotation. Overcoming those scoring droughts will be critical to the young group as it continues to grow.
“We’re learning as we go,” said freshman Tera Reed, who tied for the team lead with 8 points. “There’s been times in recent games when we have had to push through, and this game, we just didn’t do that. We’re learning as we go, and we’re getting a lot better at it. It’s just about continuing to learn from what we go through.”
Freshman Sydnei Archie gave the Rams a 16-15 lead after the first quarter with her offensive rebound and put-back in the final minute. Sophomore Danielle Hammond tallied a layup to open the second quarter, but George Mason responded with its first big run to seize all the momentum. The Patriots outscored the Rams 16-4 in the second quarter.
The Rams struggled to string points together to stage a comeback, and they settled for several outside shots in lieu of running plays to get inside.
“I knew going in that when a team is going to play us 40 minutes of zone, we can’t go 2 for 23 from the 3-point line,” said Rams coach Beth O’Boyle. “Every team that’s beaten them has made seven or more, and we needed a couple of those to fall.”
VCU shot 17 of 68 (25 percent) for the game.
Making matters tougher was George Mason’s own offensive efficiency. The Patriots (20-7, 9-4) entered averaging 17 offensive rebounds, but they shot so well that they only grabbed six against the Rams.
VCU has three regular-season games left, a stretch starting at 3 p.m. Sunday at Richmond. UR topped the Rams 77-68 in overtime Jan. 28. Another chance to grow is right around the corner.
“Everything is a learning experience with them,” said O’Boyle. “Playing against a team that has two prolific scorers like George Mason does, that’s another experience. These guys, sometimes I don’t even know if they realize how different their freshman year is from most players around the country.
“Obviously, the Richmond game is next, and we remember how exciting that first game was, and we’re looking to go in there and play our best. It’s a fun game to play in, and I think our players are excited that we get the chance to get them again.”
George Mason 15 16 17 17 — 65
VCU 16 4 13 9 — 42
George Mason (20-7, 9-4 A-10): Cardano-Hillary 19, Butler 12, Kaminski 12, Dodson 10, Musgrave 5, Bolton 5, McCool 2, Korpinen 0, Davis 0, Gatling 0. Totals: 22-46 14-17 65.
VCU (6-19, 3-10): Reed 8, Hammond 8, Archie 6, Skinner 6, Petrova 5, Williams 3, Sparks 2, Johnson 2, Pashigoreva 2, Robinson 0. Totals: 17-68 6-6 42.
3-point goals: GM: Kaminski 3, Cardano-Hillary 2, Bolton, Musgrave; VCU: Petrova, Williams.