- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 24, 2008

George Mason’s Jim Larranaga knows how to coach in the Colonial Athletic Association. Larranaga, coaching his 200th CAA game, spotted a hole in Old Dominion’s defense and suggested his players run some backdoor cuts.

Wisely, the Patriots listened. Keying an early run with a backdoor layup, George Mason distanced itself from Old Dominion early and cruised to an 86-53 win last night at Patriot Center.

Larranaga said his team implemented what it had practiced — exploiting the Monarchs’ defense early and often.

“You start looking for situations that you’ve been practicing,” said Larranaga, who has 130 CAA wins. “If it materializes, hopefully the guys will read it right. There has to be good reading — reading the defense — and then good execution.”

Execution was the word of the night for the Patriots (14-5, 6-2 CAA), who dominated in every way as the Monarchs (9-11, 4-4) stalled on offense and struggled on defense.

First-half runs of nine and 17 straight points put the game out of reach as George Mason reached the 80-point mark for the seventh time this season en route to its fourth consecutive win.

During its first half, George Mason shot 57.6 percent from the field while holding Old Dominion to 26.7 percent. Larranaga said he hoped the Patriots’ defense caused the Monarchs’ offensive deficiency but also complimented his players for scoring against a variety of defenses.

“The whole thing with playing good offense is making good decisions and taking good shots,” he said. “We seem to be in a good flow and in a good rhythm and being able to adjust to each and read each of the defenses.”

Senior guard Folarin Campbell led the Patriots with 25 points, including a career-high five 3-pointers. John Vaughan chipped in 17 points, while Will Thomas scored 14 and grabbed 12 rebounds.

That balanced scoring was necessary as Dre Smith scored five points on 2-for-8 shooting. Smith set an NCAA record last week at James Madison by going 10-for-10 from 3-point range but couldn’t revive that shooting touch.

“We’re not a one-man team,” Campbell said. “We got too many players who are scorers who want to win. Dre didn’t shoot the ball well, and John picked it up. I picked it up. Will picked it up. We got each other’s backs.”

Nine players scored for George Mason as it handed Old Dominion its worst loss since losing by 38 to Virginia in 1996. The Patriots led by as many as 35 points late, pasting the Monarchs with a multitude of baskets from different angles — and, most importantly, from many different sources.

“We’re a very versatile team,” Vaughan said. “We got a lot of talent. Our offense allows a lot of shots for everybody. On any given night anybody on our team can step up huge, and that’s what makes us a very tough team to beat.”