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Saunders Hits Game-Winner Leading Women's Basketball Past William & Mary, 57-56
Courtesy: George Mason Athletics
Release: 02/10/2013

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FAIRFAX, Va. - Rahneeka Saunders hit the game-winning shot with three seconds on the clock as the George Mason women's basketball team topped William and Mary 57-56 Sunday afternoon in Colonial Athletic Association play. Saunders and Joyous Tharrington each posted double-doubles to lead the Patriots who picked up their first conference win at home this season.

Trailing by one with less than a minute to play, Mason (7-14, 2-8 CAA) committed a timely turnover with 18 seconds on the clock, giving the Tribe (5-17, 3-8 CAA) an opportunity to increase their advantage. Emily Correal, however, missed the front end of a one-and-one, as Tharrington pulled down the rebound. Coming out of a Mason timeout, Saunders hit the game-winner with three seconds on the clock, draining a baseline jumper from the left side. Janine Aldridge got off a three-pointer, but the shot was off the mark as Mason closed out the win.

For the game, Saunders led Mason with 19 points and a career-high 13 rebounds, while Tharrington recorded her second double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Janaa Pickard completed a trio of Mason players in double-figures with 10 points. The Patriots out-rebounded the Tribe 41-29, including a 15-8 offensive rebounding edge.

Aldridge led W&M with 16 points and 11 rebounds as the Tribe shot 42.3 percent from the field and recorded nine steals.

Tharrington drained Mason's first seven points as the Patriots opened with a 7-4 lead forcing the Tribe to burn a timeout at 16:35 in the first half. Saunders and Tharrington pushed the Patriots' lead out to seven at 15:45, marking the largest lead by either team in the first period. W&M countered with a 14-5 run over the next six minutes to retake an 18-16 advantage with 9:16 on the clock.

Tharrington knotted the score for the third time with a bucket to follow as Mason forced the sixth lead change of the stanza on a pair of Cierra Strickland free throws at 7:14 for a 22-21 margin. Strickland handed Mason a five-point lead at the 4:12 mark and closed the half with an Easter bucket for the 32-38 lead.

Mason shot 50.0 percent from the field (14-28) in the first half, marking the best offensive shooting efficiency in the first 20 minutes this season for the Patriots. Tharrington and Saunders each scored11 points in the first half to lead Mason offensively.

W&M shot 66.7 percent from the field to open the second half and tie the score at 42-all off a layup from Mathieu at 11:03. Kyla Kerstetter hit the front end of a pair of free throws at 8:25 returning the advantage to the Tribe for the first time since the 7:27 mark in the first half at 45-44.

A triple from Saunders put Mason on top 50-48 at the 4:27 mark as the final two minutes would be a back-and-forth affair between the squads with three lead changes. Jazmen Boone cut it to a one-point ballgame as Correal connected on a bucket at 1:37 to put the Tribe in front, 54-53. With 1:08 on the clock, Pickard hit both attempts at the free throw line for a Mason 55-54 advantage, but Correal converted an offensive rebound, giving W&M a 56-55 lead with 45.2 left to play, setting up the game-winning shot.

Mason returns to the road for a lone matchup at UNCW on Thursday, February 14. Tip in Wilmington, N.C. is slated for 7 p.m.

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