Mason Sports Roundup

Posted: November 20, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

In addition to men’s basketball, reported yesterday, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, men’s cross country and wrestling, and women’s basketball and volleyball teams were in action over the weekend.

Men’s Cross Country

The Mason men’s cross country team closed out its season on Saturday at the IC4A Championships at Van Cortlandt Park in New York City, placing 13th in the championship race with 302 team points.

Senior John Crain was the top finisher for the Patriots, completing the five-mile race in 26:05 to finish in 44th place. Also scoring for Mason were sophomore Robert Krause, who finished 47th with a time of 26:07; sophomore James Snyder, who finished 58th with a time of 26:15; senior Kris Cruz, who finished 80th with a time of 26:37; and sophomore Thomas Mason, who finished 94th with a time of 26:57.

Georgetown won the race with 38 points, while Duke and William and Mary rounded out the top three, with 73 and 121 points, respectively. Georgetown took the top two spots in the race; Daniel Nunn won the race with a time of 25:13 and Alex Mason took the second spot with a time of 25:21.

The 2007 cross country season concluded on Monday, Nov. 19, with the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.

Swimming and Diving

Assisted by four event victories on Sunday, the Mason women’s swimming and diving team was able to break a first-place tie heading into the day and claim the 2007 Patriot Invitational crown. With a score of 815, the women held off UMBC, which tallied a final score of 804.5. The men’s squad finished in second place with a score of 597, as the UMBC men’s team maintained a sizeable lead throughout the day and won the meet with a score of 1305.

“I think both teams performed extremely well this weekend, and far and above my expectations for the weekend. I was thrilled,” said head coach Peter Ward.

Senior Sarah Bizer broke two meet records on Sunday, setting a new best in the 100-yard freestyle (51.60) and as the anchor of the 400-yard freestyle relay. The team of Caitlin Impink, Claire Weems, Mallory Pucci and Bizer came in with a time of 3:28.39.

On the men’s side, junior Eric Knight continued his outstanding weekend by besting the meet record in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:02.14. He broke the 100 breast record on Saturday, making an NCAA B-cut with a time of 55.20 seconds. Additionally, Knight grabbed a win in the 100-yard freestyle Sunday with a time of 45.54. Senior Mallory Pucci recorded the final victory for the Patriot women, a 2:05.46 win in the 200-yard butterfly.

“Sarah swam awesome, setting school records and personal bests, and she had a phenomenal meet,” said Ward. “Eric is doing amazing things, and I think he’s just scratching the surface of what he can be.”

In diving action, the Patriots swept the events of the day, as senior Amanda Fielding and junior Justin Mallette notched victories in the 3-meter and 1-meter events.

Bizer and Knight will return to action in two weeks when they travel to the U.S. Short Course nationals in Atlanta, competing against a field that includes former Mason standout Tom Koucheravy.

Men’s Wrestling

Freshman Cayle Byers won his second tournament title of the season, earning the championship at 197 pounds at the Navy Classic in Annapolis, Md. Senior Joe Coughlin and freshman Frankie McLaughlin earned a pair of third-place finishes at the tournament.

Byers, a member of the 2007-08 Preseason CAA All-Freshman Team, was impressive at yet another early-season tournament, winning all four of his matches to capture the championship at 197 pounds. After a bye in the first round, Byers quickly pinned McDaniel’s Ferris Bond in 2:28 to advance to the quarterfinal round.

Byers then took a 5-2 decision against Davidson’s Mike Waters to advance to the semifinals. In the semifinals, Byers took on top-seeded Tyler Moyer of Navy. The freshman won a hard-fought 3-2 decision to earn a spot in the championship bout. He went on to win the title with a 9-6 victory over Bloomsburg’s P.J. DiStefano.

At 133 pounds, Coughlin won by a fall and a major decision to advance to the semifinals of the championship bracket before losing his first match of the tournament. After dropping down to the consolation bracket, Coughlin recovered to down Bloomsburg’s Jason Guffey by a six-point decision. He then earned a third-place finish with a 2-1 victory over Navy’s Matt Pagan.

Like Coughlin, McLaughlin also advanced to the semifinal round before losing his first match in the 157-pound bracket. After dropping down to the consolation bracket, McLaughlin defeated Rutgers’ Chris Norrell 9-3 and Bucknell’s Ryan Ochalek in a hotly contested 6-5 match to earn third place in the bracket.

In the team scoring, George Mason finished sixth with 64 team points. Bloomsburg won the Navy Classic title with 161.5 points, while Navy (140) and Bucknell (132) rounded out the top three.

The Mason wrestlers next go to a tri-meet involving Bucknell and Millersville in Lewisburg, Pa., on Dec. 1.

Women’s Basketball

Junior Jessica Smith drained a 14-foot jumpshot with 0.8 seconds remaining on the clock to seal the Mason women’s basketball team’s first victory of the season, a 66-65 win against Toledo on Saturday in the consolation game of the 2007 Seton Hall Basketball Classic.

Fueled by a career-best 26 points from senior Lateisha Wade, the Patriots (1-2) closed a four-point gap in the final two minutes to take third place in the weekend tournament. The Rockets fell to 1-3 on the season, despite outshooting Mason by a 43.4-to-35.6 percent margin.

Wade was joined in double figures by senior Casey Quigley and sophomore Rashauna Hobbs, who chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively. Off the glass, Quigley led the Patriots with eight rebounds, as well as a team-high three steals. Melissa Goodall led the Rockets with 21 points.

Mason found itself in an early hole, as the Rockets kicked off the game with seven straight points, holding the Patriots without a field goal for the first 4:22 of the game. Hobbs broke the scoreless streak with a layup, commencing an 11-point run that gave the Patriots their first lead of the day. That advantage would grow to as large as seven at 30-23 when Hobbs completed a rare four-point play. However, Toledo fought back to even the ledger at 30 entering the halftime break.

Again, it was the Rockets who opened up strong, beginning the second half with a 10-4 rally to open up a six-point lead. Mason responded each time the Rockets tried to expand the lead, ultimately tying it up on a number of occasions.

Wade gave the lead back to the Patriots at 64-63 with a pair of clutch free throws, two of her 11 on the day, with 23 seconds remaining. However, a foul whistled on Hobbs under the basket provided Toledo’s Nacole Stocks with the opportunity to regain the lead. Stocks did, with two free throws, intersected by a Mason timeout to set up the final, potential game-winning play.

The ball again found its way into Wade’s hands in the waning seconds. However, driving down the right side of the lane, she found Smith waiting one step in front of the foul line. With less than a second remaining, Smith set and delivered her first career game-winner. Toledo was unable to get a shot off as the clock struck zero.

Mason will look to even its season record at .500 when it hosts UMBC in nonconference action Wednesday at the Patriot Center. Tip-off for the Patriots’ home opener is set for 2 p.m.

Women’s Volleyball

Senior Jaqueline Kohler led the Patriots with 15 kills, tying a game high. But ultimately the Mason women’s volleyball team was unable to pull off the upset as it fell to third-seeded Hofstra, 3-0 (30-26, 30-27, 30-19), on Friday in the opening round of the 2007 CAA Championship at Delaware’s Viera Court.

Mason concluded its season with a 14-13 record, but marked its return to the conference tournament for the first time in three seasons.

Kohler, an All-CAA second team selection along with sophomore Rebecca Walter, was the lone Patriot with double figure kills. Junior Chelsea Kropp led the team with nine digs, and freshman Fernanda Bartels, named to the conference’s All-Rookie team, recorded 26 assists.

For the Pride, Lauren Engle matched Kohler’s feat with 15 kills, while Harmonie Calinda chipped in 12.

Mason was out-hit by a .265-to-.135 margin in the match, one in which the Pride never trailed.

The game marked the final match in a Mason uniform for seniors Kohler, Kristen Byler and Melissa Kryfka. With 14 victories in 2007, the Patriots matched their win total of three seasons ago, the last time they appeared in the CAA Tournament.

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