Men’s Basketball Falls Short in CAA Title Game

Posted: March 9, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Dre Smith
Dre Smith led the Patriots in scoring in the CAA title game against VCU.
Mason Athletics photo

For the third time in the past six years the George Mason men’s basketball team took on the VCU Rams in the Colonial Athletic Association Championship Game, and for the third time, the result was the same. The Rams beat the Patriots, 71-50, to win the CAA title and earn the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Eric Maynor, the CAA Player of the Year, scored 14 points in the first half, while second-team All-CAA forward Larry Sanders had 12 rebounds and four blocks as the Rams rode the strong opening half to their second title in three years.

Sanders finished with 19 rebounds, breaking the single-game tournament record. He also had 18 points while Maynor had 25 points and eight assists.

Dre Smith was the only Patriot in double figures with 23, including 18 in the second half. Smith and Cam Long were selected to the All-Tournament Team.

The Rams found a rhythm early in the game, making four of their first five shots while Mason was just one of six from the field.

With VCU leading 11-7, Maynor took over with a steal and layup, a floater in the lane and a three-pointer to put VCU ahead, 18-9.

Mason never really threatened from that point forward as the Rams shot 52 percent in the first half while Mason shot less than 30 percent.

At the break, Mason trailed 30-19. Mason missed at least five relatively easy layups in the half.

The Rams opened the second half with a 13-1 run to make the final 14 minutes moot. The Patriots didn’t score from the field until more than seven minutes had run off the clock.

Mason trailed by as many as 23 in the second half, the team’s largest deficit in more than two years. The Patriots were able to get to within 12 with a little more than five minutes to play on Smith’s three-pointer, but Joey Rodriguez answered with a three-pointer to end Mason’s final threat.

This was also the seventh time the CAA title game featured the tournament’s top two seeds, with the teams splitting the first six meetings at 3-3.

Mason was making its 10th appearance in the CAA Championship Game, a conference record. The CAA title has been won by Mason, VCU, UNC Wilmington or Old Dominion in each of the past 11 seasons.

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