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by Colleen McNickle
Radford women’s basketball came out of EagleBank Arena with a season-opening loss against in-state foe George Mason, 70-56.
Despite the efforts of the Highlanders, they were never able to outscore the Patriots or even severely narrow the lead. George Mason came out strong from the start when they had a 10-point swing only ended by a layup executed by sophomore forward Lydia Rivers. However, that was not enough to get the ball rolling, with the Patriots leading 16-5 headed into the second quarter.
The second quarter started with back-to-back layups by Walker which created a bit of momentum. Rachel Ross, Sydney Nunley and Khiana Johnson all scored for the Highlanders coming off a time out, narrowing the Patriot’s lead to only 9 points. But the Highlanders weren’t able to capitalize on this dent in the Patriots lead, ending the half trailing 37-23.
The second half wasn’t much different from the first, as the Patriots retained their edge until the final buzzer. Radford outscored Mason in the final quarter 17-13, but it wasn’t enough to seal the deal.
Senior Kara Wright led the way for George Mason, scoring 25 points, shooting three for five from three-point range and hitting all four of her shots from the free throw line. Wright added five rebounds, two assists and three blocks to her impressive stat line. Right behind her was sophomore Chinyere Bell, who scored 18 points, doing most of her damage from the charity stripe by going 8-for-11 on her free throws. Bell also grabbed six rebounds and dropped five assists to her teammates.
Sophomore forward Destinee Walker came just short of her career-high with 12 points off of the bench to lead Radford for the game, while also snagging six rebounds along with two assists, a block, and a steal. The other high-scoring Highlanders were the freshman guard Johnson, who scored 10 points in her collegiate debut, and sophomore guard Claudia Quevedo, who added 9 points.
Jayda Worthy stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with eight points, five rebounds, four assists, four blocks and a steal. Nunley made the most of her 14 minutes in the game with seven points, six rebounds, an assist and a block.
Coach Mike McGuire is quoted saying, “I think we had normal first game jitters and nerves, which got us into a pretty hole to start the game. There are things that we need to clean up.” But he looks ahead to next week saying, “There are a lot of great lessons we can take away as we begin to prepare for Davidson.”
After Thanksgiving break, the Highlanders will take on the Davidson Wildcats on Nov. 19 on the road. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.