FAIRFAX, Va. - Five players scored in double-figures to lead the George Mason women's basketball team past visiting William and Mary Thursday night in a Colonial Athletic Association showdown at the Patriot Center. The Patriots erased an early deficit and secured the conference win, snapping a six-game losing streak and improving to 8-9 overall and 2-4 in league play. William and Mary dipped to 8-9 and 1-5 while sliding to a five-game skid.
Taleia Moton was just shy of recording her sixth 30-point game this season, scoring a game-high 28 behind a 23-point second-half effort. Amber Easter added 18 points to the board, while Janaa Pickard contributed 12 and Rahneeka Saunders pitched in 11. Christine Weithman rounded out the quintet with 10 points. Pickard, Easter and Saunders each scored seven points in the second half.
William and Mary was led in scoring by four players in double-figures paced by Janine Aldridge with 18 points. The Tribe also won the rebounding edge, 39-36, with Chanel Murchison's eight boards. Katherine DeHenzel recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists, while Saunders contributed seven of Mason's 18 assists. Evelyn Lewis led the Patriots on the boards, also with eight.
With William and Mary leading by a narrow 6-5 advantage in the early going, DeHenzel scored the Tribe's next 10 points. DeHenzel's spurt was the beginning of a larger 16-0 Tribe run over a four minute span, pushing the visiting squad out with a 14-point lead, 22-8 with 12:10 on the clock. The tide shifted midway through the first half as Mason spent the remaining time climbing back into the contest and began by answering with a 7-2 run, cutting the deficit to single digits at 24-15 with 8:45 to play.
After a Weithman three-pointer at 6:21, Easter drained the Patriots' next eight points, slicing the score to a six-point margin, 32-26, with 3:53 on the clock. The conference foes worked through a back-and-forth battle in the next minute before a Moton jumper and an old-fashioned three-point play from Weithman made it a 39-35 ballgame with just over a minute to play in the first. Aldridge gave the Tribe a six-point halftime advantage hitting a jumper to close the stanza at 41-35.
Jaclyn McKenna hit a pair of buckets early in the second stanza to return an eight-point lead to the Tribe before Pickard hit her second trey of the game for a 45-40 tally with 18:04 on the clock. Mason continued to chip at its deficit and grabbed its first lead of the game since the 18:33 mark in the first half when Rachel McNair converted a putback giving the Patriots a 52-51 lead with 13:08 remaining.
After the teams worked through four lead changes and one tied score, Moton drew a foul on a made three-pointer and hit the free throw, handing Mason a 62-56 lead with 7:13 remaining in the game. Following a Taysha Pye jumper, Moton recorded a three-point play for a 65-58 Patriot advantage. Saunders nailed a three-pointer from the left wing at the 4:14 mark for a nine-point Mason advantage as the Tribe cut the score to two points on a McKenna one-and-one, 72-70.
Mason would not allow William and Mary to chip any further as Moton responded with nine unanswered points and Easter capped the game with a free throw for the final 82-70 score. Mason finished 18-for-23 at the charity stripe with Moton leading the way with a 10-for-12 display.
The win marks Mason's first win over William and Mary since a 47-42 victory on January 24, 2008 in the Patriot Center.
Mason continues this three-game home stretch welcoming VCU for a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.