- - Friday, March 2, 2018

RICHMOND — The two D.C. area schools in the Atlantic 10 Conference – George Washington and George Mason — went about 100 miles south to face each other Friday afternoon in the tournament quarterfinals.

And it was a good thing both teams were already here Thursday night, since high winds early Friday in central and northern Virginia prevented the George Mason band from making the trek down I-95 on Friday.

No. 5 seed GW defeated rival and No. 4 seed Mason 64-59 and will face Dayton on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Richmond Coliseum in the semifinals. The Flyers are the defending tourney champs, won the regular-season title this season and beat Richmond in the first game Friday.

“They are just really hard to match up with,” GW coach Jennifer Rizzotti, a Hall of Fame guard at UConn, said of Dayton. “They had a will to win today. That is what you have to do at this time of year. I am very happy with the fight our team showed today. We just had different people step up. It was a great team win.”

The Colonials (17-13) certainly had that against Mason, which lost for the third time this season to GW.

GW was paced by reserve Kelli Prange with 15 points, Brianna Cummings with 14 and Kelsi Mahoney with 12.

“We knew there would be ups and downs,” said Prange, who is from Damascus, Maryland. “They rely so heavily on (Natalie) Butler.”

Mason graduate student Butler, the conference player of the year, had 27 points and 12 rebounds. The 6-foot-5 Butler recorded her 31st double-double in a row – the third-longest streak of its kind in Division I history.

“We just needed to protect the ball more,” said Butler, whose team made 17 turnovers while GW had just eight.

Dayton won at home over GW on Jan. 21, 66-55, and won at Foggy Bottom, 57-53, on Feb. 11. Mason fell to 23-9 and will wait to see if it gains a bid to the WNIT.

“We turned the ball over 17 times. We are obviously disappointed with the outcome today,” said Mason coach Nyla Milleson.

GW’s Camilia Tapias hit two free throws with 26.5 seconds left to give the Colonials a lead of 60-56.

Mason turned the ball over with 17.4 seconds. Prange was fouled and made two free throws with 16.6 left to make it 62-56.

Mason’s Camden Musgrave banked in a 3-pointer to trim the lead to 62-59 with 11 seconds left, but GW held on for the win.

The rookie of the year in the conference was also from Mason in Nicole Cardano-Hillary, who had six points and four assists Friday. She was also a third-team all-conference pick while Cummings of GW was also on the third team. Butler, Cardano-Hillary and Cummings were all on the all-defensive team.

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