- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 17, 2002

Payback time arrived yesterday for George Mason.
After losing to Drexel last month by 31 points its biggest Colonial Athletic Association defeat in eight years George Mason pounded the Dragons 79-64 before a homecoming crowd of 5,761 at the Patriot Center.
Junior center Jesse Young's seventh double-double of the season (20 points, 10 rebounds) helped keep the Patriots (16-7, 10-4 CAA) firmly in second place with four games remaining. This was George Mason's fifth straight victory, its longest winning streak since the 1998-99 season, when the Patriots reeled off 10 in a row before losing to Cincinnati in the NCAA tournament.
"They made shots that they didn't make at our place; we missed shots that we didn't miss at our place," said Drexel's first-year coach, Bruiser Flint. "That was the bottom line. They [also] rebounded the ball much better."
The Patriots crushed the Dragons 49-30 on the glass, including 21 offensive rebounds that led to many easy baskets. Drexel won the battle of the boards 38-30 in its 100-69 victory Jan. 26.
Perhaps the best thing to happen to George Mason this season was that whopping defeat. Although the Dragons (13-12, 10-6) are the league's biggest surprise this season, they are not as talented as the Patriots. The blowout apparently served as a wake-up call for Mason, which hasn't lost since.
"Everyone was a bit down after losing two in a row we got beat by 16 versus Virginia Commonwealth and then getting beat by 31 obviously, that's going to take its toll on you, physically and mentally," Young said. "Coach [Jim Larranaga] did a great job of getting us back into things and got us upbeat and practices have been great since then."
This time, the Patriots made sure they played defense. In the first meeting, the Patriots let Drexel's 6-foot-6 sophomore forward, Tim Whitworth, score a career-high 38 points. This time Whitworth finished with seven points.
Early In the game, however, the Dragons had their game clicking. Drexel raced to a 21-12 lead, but then George Mason tightened up its halfcourt defense and shut down Drexel's open looks on the perimeter.
The Dragons missed their next 14 shots from the floor and went 10:22 without scoring a basket until Whitworth sank a running layup 42 seconds before halftime. George Mason ended the half on a 26-6 run for a 38-27 lead.
Besides Young, the Patriots received nice contributions from senior swingman Rob Anderson (16 points) and point guard Raoul Heinen (eight points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals).
George Mason is playing at a high level heading toward March, when it really counts. Fifth-year coach Larranaga has never won 20 games in a season at Mason, but this team stands a good chance of achieving a magical season.
"I feel pretty good," the 6-10 Young said about Mason's chances in March. "We're playing well."

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