FAIRFAX, Va. - In what seemed to be the winning shot, senior Emily Correal's lay up with 43 seconds remaining gave the William and Mary women's basketball team a 56-55 lead against George Mason on Sunday afternoon at the Patriot Center. However, Mason's Rahneeka Saunders connected on a baseline jumper with three seconds left to play as she lifted the Patriots over the Tribe, 57-56. The setback drops the Green and Gold to 5-17 overall and 3-8 in Colonial Athletic Association play, while George Mason improves to 7-14 on the season and 2-8 in league action.
Senior Janine Aldridge led the Tribe with a double-double that consisted of 16 points and 11 rebounds. Correal finished the afternoon with 10 points and six rebounds, while sophomore Jazmen Boone tallied nine points and five assists. The Green and Gold finished the game shooting 22-of-52 (42.3 percent) from the floor, which included a 4-of-13 (30.8 percent) effort from 3-point range. For the game, the Tribe held decisive advantages in bench points (22-9) and points in the paint (24-14).
In the early going, the Patriots jumped out to an early 11-4 advantage as Joyous Tharrington's jumper gave Mason the seven-point edge at the 15:45 mark. Senior Taylor Hilton paced the Tribe in the beginning stages with four points, while Correal initiated the scoring with a lay up at the 19:12 juncture.
W&M responded with a 14-5 burst as it took its first lead of the afternoon, 18-16, at the 9:14 mark after Boone's fast break lay up, which originated off of a steal and look ahead assist from Aldridge. Hilton's jumper ignited the run at the 15:13 mark, while senior Chanel Murchison's baseline jumper tied the affair, 16-16, with 10:04 remaining in the half.
After the Patriots tied the affair at 18 apiece, Aldridge's trifecta gave the Green and Gold a 21-18 edge with 8:03 left to go. However, the Patriots scored the next eight points as it controlled at 26-21 lead with 6:09 left in the stanza. Another trey courtesy of Aldridge, got the Green and Gold to within 28-26 but Mason scored the frame's final four points as it owned a 32-28 margin at intermission.
In second half action, Mason extended its lead to six, 41-35, after Cierra Strickland's 3-pointer at the 14:39 mark. The Tribe responded as junior Kaitlyn Mathieu tied the contest, 42-42, after the Waterboro, Maine, native netted a jumper at the 11:02 juncture.
The Green and Gold took its first lead of the half, 45-44, after sophomore Kyla Kerstetter connected on jump shot at the 8:25 mark. Kerstetter finished the afternoon with seven points on two made field goals and three free throws. Moments later, W&M's advantage grew to 47-44 after Boone's two-point bucket with 6:47 remaining.
In the final six minutes of action, the lead changed hands on five occasions. After Mason grabbed a 53-50 lead with 3:21 left to play, W&M countered with four-straight points as Correal's jump shot gave the Tribe a 54-53 margin with 1:36 remaining. Mason regained the lead, 55-54, after two Janaa Pickard foul shots at the 1:06 mark.
Once again, as it had done all afternoon, the Tribe answered as Correal's lay up put the Green and Gold back on top, 56-55, with just 43 seconds left to go. With the Tribe still leading, Mason was down to its last possession with nine seconds left in regulation. After inbounding the ball, Mason's Saunders was corralled into the corner and that's when the Washington, D.C., native connected on the baseline winner with only three seconds remaining.
Saunders led George Mason with 19 points and 13 rebounds, while Tharrington tallied 13 points and 11 boards. The Tribe held the Patriots to shoot just 39.0 percent (23-of-59) from the field, which included a 30 percent (3-of-10) performance from long-range.
The Green and Gold returns to action on Friday, Feb. 15, as it hosts Northeastern at 8 p.m. The contest against the Huskies will be the Tribe's annual breast cancer awareness "Hoops for a Cure" game. Admission to the contest is free of charge for fans who wear pink. Additionally, the game will be televised on Comcast Sports Network Mid-Atlantic and the Comcast Sports Network New England.