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News Feed - February 13, 2009

If George Mason would have made all of its foul shots in its last five road games, the Patriots most likely would have won, rather than lost, every game. George Mason missed four free throws against Northeastern and lost by one to the Huskies. The Patriots missed six free throws against Virginia Commonwealth and lost by five. They missed two free throws against Old Dominion and lost by two. They missed eight free throws against James Madison and lost by two. And they missed 13 free throws against Delaware and lost by eight.

In Thursday’s game at Delaware, a team George Mason beat 78-55 on Jan. 27, the Patriots trailed, 42-28 at halftime in part because they missed eight of their first 14 free throws.

“We put ourselves in a position to be behind by such a significant amount because we missed so many free throws,” Coach Jim Larranaga said. “When you shoot 50 percent from the foul line, or even less, those are golden opportunities to cut into a lead or establish a lead, and we’re not able to do that.”

Because of the position he plays underneath the basket, senior forward Darryl Monroe makes a lot of trips to the free throw line. No player on the team has gotten to the line as many times as he has this season. But as often as he finds himself 15 feet from the basket, Monroe apparently isn’t comfortable making shots from that distance. Monroe makes on average just 61 percent of his free throws. Against Delaware, he really struggled. Despite scoring a career-best 27 points, Monroe went 3 of 10 from the foul line.

“I left a lot of points out there to help my team win the game,” Monroe said. “I think if I would have made more free throws I think we would have won the game.”

Sometimes players who miss a couple free throws early start thinking about those misses too much when they go to the line. Monroe says that wasn’t the case with him Thursday night.

“I was just trying to keep the same routine, like the coaches told me in shootaround, keep the same routine,” he said. “It just wasn’t falling.”

Larranaga says routine is key with free throws.

“You have to, as a free throw shooter, be confident and comfortable,” he said. “I’m not sure which one comes first. Normally, what comes first is putting a lot of time in at the foul line when there’s nobody in the gym, and you get to the point where your stroke is really consistent so when you go the foul line there’s no thought. You have your routine. You execute the routine and you make the free throw.”

Monroe isn’t the only one struggling from the line this season. As a team, George Mason has made less than 67 percent of its free throws, putting it eighth among CAA teams. Monroe knows exactly what he and his teammates need to do to correct the problem.

“I’ve just got to keep working on my free throws, getting back to it, keep shooting and shooting,” he said.

By Kathy Orton  |  February 13, 2009; 11:38 AM ET
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