by Matt Delaney
A stout and opportunistic defense helped George Mason’s varsity girls basketball team earn their much-needed second win of the season in a 40-32 victory over Strasburg High School.
It was the Mustangs’ closest contest of the young season, but it should’ve been put out of reach much earlier. Mason held a 32-20 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter after sophomore guard Maddie LaCriox found junior guard Victoria Rund for an open three-pointer.
However, the Mustangs took their foot off the gas and allowed Strasburg to go on a 10-0 run, bringing the visitors within two points with a minute and a half remaining in the game.
Strong showings at the free throw line helped Mason put the game on ice on a night where they were 3 for 11 prior to sinking their last six, but it still wasn’t the team’s best showing.
“We were just slow-poking it,” head coach Michael Gilroy said. “We rise to the challenge of whoever we’re playing, and I think we walked in feeling cocky even though we’re 1-2.”
Defense set the tone early when Mason scored a quick two after junior guard Nicole Bloomgarden stole the opening tip from a Strasburg player and sophomore forward Raquel Dodd blocked an opposing player’s lay-up, leading to another easy bucket. That defensive effort kept Strasburg at bay and almost held the Rams scoreless throughout the entire second quarter until two late shots brought the halftime tally to 19-13.
The Mustangs continued their strong play during the third quarter as the defense put the clamps on Strasburg and forced turnovers, making for more open lanes to the hoop. Though even with Mason’s defense in top form, the offense looked out of sorts and gave Strasburg little trouble.
“We’re offensively challenged, no doubt about it,” Gilroy continued. “We can draw every set in the world, but at the end of the day we need some players who can put the ball in the hoop.”
Last Friday Mason held their home opener against Alexandria private school Bishop Ireton and fell 50-32 to the Cardinals. A slight 19-17 halftime lead in favor of the Mustangs evaporated in the second half when Ireton exploded for 11 and 23 in the third and fourth quarter, respectively, to Mason’s seven and six points in those same periods.
Mason beat 5A Mount Vernon High School 50-42 on Thursday, Dec. 8. The Mustangs play Central High School at home on Tuesday, Dec. 13.