Mason tripled up on the seventh seed Appomattox 66-22 in front of a revamped student cheering section.
“It was a decent crowd tonight and when this place gets packed, [the girls] feed off of it,” said Head Coach LaBryan Thomas. “We just play better at home when the ‘Red Zone’ is there.”
The Lady Mustangs gave the “Red Zone” plenty to cheer about, putting the Raiders from Appomattox away early. Mason led 14-3 after one, and did not allow a field goal until the closing seconds of the first quarter. After an early three-pointer from sophomore Abby Johansen and a flurry of fast-break buckets from junior ring leaders Nicole Mitchell and Chantal Thomas, the Lady Mustangs had already tainted the Raiders hopes of a possible upset.
Appomattox showed signs of life early in the second quarter hitting a three on their second possession, then followed with another quick layup to narrow the gap to eight points for a brief period before Mason took over completely. Behind the sharp shooting of Mitchell, who had 10 points on the night, and the inside scoring of senior forward Kim Kenny, Mason took over the game for good in the second. Kenny, who led all players with 15 points, physically dominated the Raiders down low, coming up with offensive rebounds at will in addition to blocking shots on the defensive end.
“The game plan was to go inside to Kim [Kenny],” noted Coach Thomas. “We were a lot bigger than they were tonight.”
Mason played its trademarked pressure defense, which led to a constant flow of steals and quick transition points, but also a lot of fouls. Mason accumulated 10 fouls in the first half alone, and found themselves in the penalty for the majority of the second quarter. However, the Lady Mustangs were not slowed by the foul trouble thanks to their deep bench as well as some poor free throw shooting by Appomattox.
After allowing five points in the first minute and a half of the second quarter, Mason gave up just two the rest of the period and took a 28-10 lead in the locker room.
Following the break, things continued to unravel. Mitchell and Kenny continued to have their way with the Appomattox defense, extending the lead to 45-17 after three. The Raiders did not help their cause as they continued to clank free throws; they were 5-15 from the line as a team through three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, the Mason lead ballooned to 30, and then to 40 points as a result of a pair of steals and fast-break layups from sophomore guard Violet Miller and a good shooting display from the Mustang bench.
The win over Appomattox propels the Lady Mustangs to the semifinals of the Region B Tournament where they will travel to Harrisonburg, Virginia, a neutral site, to face the third seed Dan River on Thursday, Feb. 26.