No matter how dire the outcome appeared for George Mason late in Wednesday’s game at William and Mary the Patriots never lost their poise. When they squandered their 12-point lead, no one showed any frustration. When Mason got caught in a defensive mismatch on the Tribe’s David Schneider who launched a three-pointer that would have tied the score and possibly sent the game into overtime, no one pointed fingers of blame.
Instead, on a night when they didn’t play their best, the Patriots did what they had to do to pull out a 61-57 victory.
“Some nights you’re going to shoot great; some nights, it’s not going to fall,” senior guard Dre Smith said. “But the main thing is we play as a team, play together throughout the game. That’s the biggest part of this team that I love. No matter what adversity, we’re always ready to pick each other up and it’s not one person out there. It’s all five guys on the court and the guys on the bench.”
Mason’s freshmen have been solid contributors this season, but in a tight game against William and Mary, Coach Jim Larranaga wasn’t taking any chances. He wanted his most seasoned players on the court, and they delivered for him. Their value came not only from their stat-sheet production, but also from the single-mindedness and composure that they showed.
“Dre Smith, I didn’t even take him out in the second half,” Larranaga said. “I thought he was playing so hard and so well, and he hit a couple of key baskets for us. And then John Vaughan, I needed to rest him late in the first half . . . because I knew we were going to need him on David Schneider and I wanted him well rested to do that. Louis Birdsong got himself in a little bit of foul trouble, but I thought he also did a good job on Danny Sumner late in the game.
“Between John Vaughan’s defense, Louis Birdsong’s defense, Dre Smith’s offense and Darryl Monroe’s rebounding, I thought those veterans did a really good job.”
January 15, 2009; 11:56 AM ET
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