Kaleel Weatherly, staff writer
In their game at EagleBank Arena against the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Rams Wednesday evening, Mason’s women’s basketball team came away with a 70-54 victory.
Mason got off to a fast start as the team shot 13 for 25 from the field, while the Rams shot 10 for 24 from the field. The Rams were unable to knock down a 3-point shot during the first half, as they went zero for one from beyond the arch.
The Patriots shot four for eight from the 3-point line in the first half. Patriot guards Kara Wright and Taylor Brown each shot two for three from downtown. Rebounding was a problem for both teams in the first half, as Mason totaled 14 rebounds to the Rams’ 13.
Nevertheless, the Patriots led the Rams 35-24 at the conclusion of the first half. Both Brown and Wright were the leading scorers for Mason’s first half with 10 points apiece. Forward Jessica Ogunnorin and guard Ashley Pegram led the Rams in scoring with seven each.
The Patriots came out in the second half scoring baskets and playing aggressive defense. They shot 55 percent in the half, but they also missed all four of their 3-point shots. Instead of attempting a lot of shots from beyond the arch, Mason played aggressively by driving to the hoop and attempting 2-point shots.
Mason forward Tiffany Padgett hit several 2-point shots on the baseline and near the charity stripe. The Rams could not stop her step-back jump shots. One of her noticeable plays was in the third quarter where she nailed a step back jumper on the baseline while getting fouled. She finished the game with 13 points and six rebounds.
Brown finished the game with 21 points, five rebounds and three assists. Like Padgett, Brown continued to hit difficult shots. She displayed an array of turnaround jump shots around the baseline and near the top of the key.
As for the Rams, they shot 27 percent in the second half. They struggled to get into a scoring rhythm, especially from beyond the arch where they only shot one for 13. The Rams did get some production out of Pegram, however, who finished the game as the highest scorer on the team with 11 points, but that was not enough to secure a victory.
The Rams could not knock down open shots when the opportunities arose. They shot 20 for 61 from the field in the game, and Mason shot 24 for 45.
Wright finished with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists. Head Coach Nyla Milleson felt that everyone who stepped on the floor for Mason contributed to the win, stating that the game was one of the team’s best.
“I thought our defense was really, really good. I thought we really moved the basketball well. This might be our best shooting performance of the year. We had a really high shooting percentage, so I thought we were just really together,” Milleson said.
Brown finished the game with a seven for 12 shooting percentage from the field. She said she tried to focus on making shots because each one counts when the team is running plays or down by possessions.
Along with shooting 58 percent from the field, Brown bypassed former women’s basketball player Marcell Harrison (class of 1994) to take fifth place on Mason’s women’s all-time list for scoring.
“It’s a blessing, to be honest. I truly am grateful for achieving that,” Brown said.
Wright also shot the ball well, finishing the game shooting 50 percent from beyond the arch.
Coming off of a two-game losing streak, Wright said picking up the win felt great: “We knew we needed to get this win, especially at home and [in the] conference. We knew this could be a good game, [and] this is a good win. Our coach did very well on the scouting report, and we played together as a team and shared the ball. This feels great.”
After winning the game by a large margin against a conference opponent, Milleson’s message to the team is to start focusing on the upcoming conference game against George Washington University.
“This game is done and over, and it’s time to get our focus on to George Washington,” Milleson said.
Mason’s women’s basketball team will be facing GW on Fri., Jan. 22, instead of Sat., Jan. 23, because of the anticipated snow storms this weekend. The game will take place at the Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, D.C. Tip-off is at 12 p.m.