Monarchs Fall to George Mason 70-66; Fall to Fourth in CAA
By ODU Athletics
Feb. 28, 2004
NORFOLK, VA -The Old Dominion men's basketball team fell short of obtaining the #3 seed in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament Wednesday night, dropping to George Mason 70-66 in front of a season high crowd of 8,041 at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. The loss means ODU will be the #4 seed in the CAA tournament and will face #5 seed Hofstra next Saturday, March 6, at 2:30 PM. John Waller (Richmond, VA) scored a game-high 18 points and Alex Loughton (Perth, Australia) grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds, as the Monarchs drop to 16-11 overall and 11-7 in the CAA. George Mason improves to 19-8 for the season and 12-6 in CAA action as the Patriots secure the #3 seed in the tournament.
The Monarchs raced to a 10-point lead to kick off the first half, grabbing a 14-4 lead by the 15:12 mark of the half. John Waller scored eight of his 18 points during this early stretch. ODU took a game-high 11-point lead, 17-6, with 14:19 remaining in the half, after Janko Mrksic (Stoney Creek, Ontario) made a lay-up, but a three-pointer by the Patriot's Lamar Butler cut the Monarch lead to eight points, 17-9, with 13:32 left in the half. That basket kicked off a 12-4 run that saw George Mason tie the game at 21 by the 7:38 mark. T.J. Waldon (Lakeland, FL) made a lay-up to give the Monarchs the lead once more, 23-21, but another three-pointer by Lamar Butler gave George Mason their first lead of the night, 24-23, with 6:47 remaining in the half. John Waller answered back with a three-pointer of his own to give ODU the 26-24 lead and Mrksic added a basket to extend the ODU lead to 28-24 at the 5:47 mark, but a 4-0 Patriot run tied the game up at 28 with 4:26 left. A three-pointer by Isaiah Hunter (Charlotte, NC) gave the Monarchs the 32-30 lead with just over two minutes left in the half, but Tony Skinn connected on a three-pointer for the Patriots in the closing seconds of the half to give the Patriots the 33-32 advantage at the half.
Lamar Butler started the scoring in the second half, connecting on a jumper to extend the George Mason lead to 35-32 with 19:09 left in the game, but Isaiah Hunter connected on a three-pointer seconds later to tie the game at 35. The game was tied at 37 with just over 18 minutes remaining in the half before the Monarchs went on a brief 4-0 run to take the 41-37 lead, with 16:43 remaining in the game. The game was tied at 43 at the 13:53 mark after Mark Davis connected on a basket for George Mason, but by the 11:49 mark of the half, ODU held a 46-45 advantage. George Mason, then, went on a 9-2 run to take a six point advantage, 54-48, at the ten minute mark of the half and extended their lead to 10 points with just over six minutes left in the half before Drew Williamson (Burlington, NC) connected on a three-pointer to cut the deficit down to seven points, 60-53. With 1:31 left in the game, ODU cut the lead to just four points after another three-pointer by Drew Williamson, but found themselves trailing by six points, 70-64, in the closing seconds of the half. Two late free throws by Isaiah Hunter cut the deficit to four points, 70-66, which became the final score.
In a very close contest that saw both teams make 25 field goals and seven three-pointers, the difference in the game was the free throw differential. George Mason shot 13 of 21 from the charity stripe, while the Monarchs shot nine of 15. The Monarchs out-rebounded the Patriots by a 38-34 margin for the game. John Waller scored a game-high 18 points for the game, while Isaiah Hunter added 13 points and Arnaud Dahi (Ivory Coast, Africa) scored 10. Alex Loughton, who finished with eight points, grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds for the game. On the George Mason side, Lamar Butler led the team with 18 points, while Tony Skinn added 10.
The Monarchs will play #5 seed Hofstra next Saturday, March 6, at 2:30 PM in the Quarterfinals of the CAA Tournament, held at the Richmond Coliseum. During the regular season, ODU split the series with the Pride, winning a decision at home, while dropping a close game on the road.
NOTES: Troy Nance dished out two more assists to give himself 456 and rank tenth all-time at ODU and in CAA history.
George Mason Head Coach Jim Larranaga "The crowd was great tonight. They were into the game from the beginning. They gave a great ovation to the seniors. The environment was terrific."
"The problem we usually have away from home is effort, but tonight we played hard. Turnovers really hurt us. Our benched stepped up big."
George Mason Sophomore Guard Lamar Butler "Words can't explain how much we wanted to win this game. One of our goals was to go undefeated at home, and Old Dominion took that away from us earlier this season. We had a lot of hunger for this game."
Old Dominion Head Coach Blaine Taylor "I knew this was going to be a hard game when I looked at the schedule. I'm pleased with winning 11 games (in the conference), and six out of our last 10 games. We're playing good basketball. We're going to start with a clean slate going into the tournament."
Old Dominion Sophomore Forward Alex Loughton On Dahi's put-back dunk "It's a real energy boost. The crowd gets pumped, and the team gets pumped for the next play. I know I was excited."