A road matchup against Conference 35 opponent Strasburg High School saw George Mason’s varsity girls basketball team crank out another big win, dropping the Rams 57-32 on Tuesday night.
The impressive score differential doesn’t tell the whole story. Missed practice time over the past week for various members of the team put Mason (12-4) at risk for a sluggish start. As individual Mustangs battled through either sickness or injury, head coach Michael Gilroy needed to get creative with his lineups.
“Player-wise, [we] had a whole bunch of kids chip in as always, which is our theme this year,” Gilroy said. “[I] chose to give [junior guard] Linnea Skotte the start on a hunch due to how hard she’s been working and it worked out. She ended with a career-high of 17 [points].”
Skotte’s contributions proved key throughout the game but they alone couldn’t compensate for the team’s rough opening quarter. The score seesawed during the first frame as the Mustangs readjusted to their first live action in over a week. Still, Mason held the edge going into the second, 16-12.
The team’s rundown state started to affect their greatest strength: a prickly defense. But as the half drew nearer, the Mustangs were able to rally on the back end and apply pressure on Strasburg’s offense.
“Defensively we weren’t clicking for the first 10 minutes or so,” Gilroy said. “Not stopping the ball in transition, not talking on screens, and not seeing both man and ball. We finally were able to apply our full-court pressure and get some steals and layups to extend our lead to 17 at halftime.”
Mason resisted any urges to let up in the second half and continued to hold at least a 15-point lead over the Rams throughout the remainder of the contest.
The Mustangs have come a long way since their sloppy 40-32 win over this same Strasburg team at home on Dec. 6. That languid performance spurred Gilroy to stoke the fire in his team and challenge them to do better. From that point on the Mustangs have gone 10-2 and have made the entire team a force to be reckoned with.
“It’s gonna be hard for teams to scout us, especially because I am with these girls daily and rarely know which kid is going to step up next,” Gilroy said. “Today was Linnea’s turn, tomorrow it will be someone else.”
The Mustangs host William Monroe High School on Thursday night.