Jerry Holy, Broadside Correspondent

Four days before their season opener this past Friday, the George Mason University women’s basketball team outplayed the Virginia Union Panthers en route to a 75-27 victory.

The team received a great deal of contribution from each player. Freshman forward Amber Easter led the team with 14 points.

Junior guard Brittany Poindexter added 13 points and four steals. Freshman forward Janaa Pickard also scored in double digits with 11 points and added eight rebounds and seven blocks.

Freshman guard Rahneeka Saunders had five assists and nine points.

From the start, both sides struggled to score. Rising junior guard Ashleigh Braxton helped Mason get on the board after the first two minutes of play. Her effort led Mason to an 11-2 run.

Later in the first half, Mason went on the fast-break offense, exploding to a 25-11 run. Mason went into halftime with a 42-14 lead.

During the first half, Mason shot 12-of-13 from the free throw line and forced 12 Panther turnovers.
“The key plays in the game were the fast breaks we had,” said Poindexter.

During the second half, Mason kept up their tempo as they jumped out to a 9-2 scoring run.
“I think the quick tempo we had was a key play,” said Easter.

Mason would keep their pace throughout the game as they outscored the Lady Panthers 33-13 in the second half. Mason outrebounded Virginia Union 52-33.

“Controlling the backboard was a key play during the game for us,” said Pickard.

In her second year at Mason, Head Coach Jeri Porter was impressed by her team’s effort.

“Teamwork was good and everyone had great energy level[s]. We have a young team this year with the freshmen players. We have a great balance with our upperclassmen players,” said Porter.

The freshmen players, which include Pickard and Easter, experienced their first game as Patriots in a shining style.

“The freshmen stepped up to the challenge during the game,” said Poindexter.

“The transition from high school basketball to college basketball is intense, but Mason has made the transition less tense for us freshmen players,” said Pickard.

Both Easter and Pickard were effective in their first collegiate game. Each shot 5-of-6 from the field, and the two combined for 15 rebounds. Easter made all four free throws.

The team had an impressive offensive display, but they were even better defensively.

On the defensive side of the ball, Poindexter and Saunders recorded four steals apiece. Pickard blocked seven of Mason’s 13 total blocks.

The team pick-pocketed the Panthers 15 times, which led to 23 turnovers.

The Panthers shot a meager 19.6 percent from the field. Their 21.4 field-goal percentage was a slight improvement from 17.9 percent in the first half.

Virginia Union was unable to contain Mason’s explosive performance as Mason gradually increased their lead, which at one point reached 49 points.

“We will be a strong and well-balanced team when we get deeper into the season,” said Porter.

The women’s basketball team expects to be a conference sleeper in the 2009-10 season.

The exhibition game against the Panthers displayed the team’s potential to contend.