Mustangs defense dominates in semifinal win against visiting Tigers

George Mason girls defense forces 21 turnovers in route to regional semifinal win

Carter Mackinnon, Staff Reporter

Girls varsity basketball team
The Mustangs won the regional semifinal game against Brentsville and will play in the region final on Friday. (Photo via GMLadyMustangs twitter)

The top-seeded Mustangs knocked off the fourth-seeded Brentsville Tigers, 44-16 last night. George Mason only scored six in the first quarter, but had a combined 28 in the second and third quarters. Mason is scheduled to host third-seeded James Monroe, a 58-34 winner over Independence, in the regional finals on Friday.

The Mustangs’ main objective was to stop Alden Yergey (who averages 20.7 points per game). Zoraida Icabalceta was primarily guarding Yergey tonight and held her to three points.  

“We really just play team defense. If I get beat I know that I will have my help,” Icabalceta said after the win.

The Mustangs (12-0) started the game pretty sloppy. The Mustangs and the Tigers exchanged baskets in the first quarter. The Mustangs led 6-5 at the end of the first.

In the second quarter the Mustangs defense started to play a pivotal role in the game. After forcing back-to-back turnovers that led to baskets by Bella Paradiso (#14) and Elizabeth Creed (#33), Brentsville head coach Eugene Baltimore was forced to call a timeout.

The Tigers (6-3) were able to come out of the time out and draw up a play leading to a three point basket by Cara Vollmer (#13), although these were the Tigers only points of the quarter. Mason led 19-8 at the halftime break.

Megan Tremblay (#23) and Creed combined for 7 of the Mustangs’ 15 third quarter points. Mason took a 38-13 lead into the fourth quarter and led by at least 25 points the rest of the way.

Head Coach Chris Carrico said the Mustangs need to play strong defense in order to keep advancing in the tournament. 

“We have been working and concentrating a lot on defense this year and we know it’s hard to score in the half court,” said Carrico. “If we can get teams to make turnovers and then get points off of those turnovers, it’s a real key.”

The Tigers were led by Vollmer with six points (two threes) and five points for Kendall Meunier (#4).

Creed led Mason with 12 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and two assists. Paradiso had 12 points and Icabalceta had six points and five assists. The Mustangs forced 21 turnovers and had 16 points off of those turnovers.

“We probably could have had more points of turnovers,” Coach Carrico said. “We have to execute and make layups, that was the achilles heel tonight. We talk all the time about if you gain extra possessions by creating turnovers or getting offensive boards, then executing and finishing that and I don’t think we did a good job of that tonight.”

The Mustangs stayed after the game and continued to practice. Coach Carrico made each girl finish 15 layups before she was able to leave the gym. Effort like this is what will allow the Mustangs to go deep into the postseason.