CAA Tournament Recap
#1 VCU 65, #6 George Mason 59
George Mason won’t even make the 2007 NCAA Tournament but Jim Larranaga’s team found a way to scare about 20 BCS conference bubble teams into holding their breaths.
Virginia Commonwealth guard Eric Maynor was the catalyst for his team’s comeback 65-59 win Monday evening.
“For about 36 minutes, we were in control of the game,” George Mason coach Jim Larranaga said in the post game press conference. “Then Eric Maynor stepped up and made huge defensive plays and converted those into layups. He proved tonight that he’s a big-time player.”
The sophomore guard scored 10 of the Rams’ final 12 points (four after steals when the Rams were down with less than two minutes left to go in the game).
“All throughout the year, different guys stepped up on different nights,” Maynor said. “Tonight was my night.”
VCU (27-6, 16-2) had four starters score in double figures and will receive its first berth in the NCAA Tournament since 2004.
“These guys went out there tonight and they refused to be denied,” VCU head coach Anthony Grant said. “The way they had to persevere, I think, speaks volumes about who they are as people.”
Maynor, named CAA Tournament’s Most Valuable Player for his outstanding heroics, ended the game with a game-high 20 points. The most remarkable thing about the Rams’ victory is that VCU, the leading three-point shooting team in the Colonial (41 3PT%), was only one of 12 from beyond the arc. Mason also survived VCU’s full court pressure defense until the last two minutes. The Rams made up for both uncharacteristic deficiencies by outscoring George Mason from the foul line 18-6.
George Mason (18-15, 9-9), the sixth-seed, was two minutes away from being the first team in the history of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament to win four games in four days.
Two veterans that were part of GMU’s Final Four run last year led the Patriots, but late in the game they missed junior PG Jordan Carter. Forward Will Thomas and guard Gabe Norwood both had 10 points and were big reasons the Patriots were able to answer every VCU run in the second half. However, while trying to break the Rams full court press, Carter went to the bench with a injury to his left knee. Maynor got his two steals and layups immediately after backup Dre Smith was inserted into the game.
Grant, the 2007 CAA Coach of the Year, has an NCAA Tournament championship ring as a top assistant last year at Florida under Billy Donovan. Rumors have been surfacing that Colorado could be interested in Grant’s services at the end of the season in order to revive the Big 12’s worst program.
Bracketography.com currently has VCU as a 12-seed in its latest projected bracket.