FAIRFAX, VA - Towson closed the final four minutes of the game on an 11-3 run to seal a 53-51 come-from-behind victory over the George Mason women's basketball team Sunday evening in Colonial Athletic Association play.
Rakneeka Saunders finished the contest with a game-high 18 points, six rebounds and six steals, while Janaa Pickard added 11 points for the Patriots (8-15, 3-9 CAA). Three players scored in double-figures for Towson (8-16, 2-11 CAA) paced by Dominique Johnson's 17 points as Towson also won the edge on glass by a narrow 45-43 margin. Mason outshot the Tigers 31.6-to-25.9 percent from the field, but Towson used a 16-of-26 effort at the charity stripe to seal the win. Mason was limited to an 8-of-10 showing at the free throw line.
Both teams got off to a slow, shaky start as the teams combined to hit just three field goals in the opening six minutes before Tanisha McTiller and Cierra Strickland exchanged three-pointers for an 8-5 Towson lead with 12:50 on the clock. Kyana Jacobs made it a one-point game, 12-11, with a jumper at 7:12 before the teams unleashed five three-pointers over the next six possessions, bringing the score to 21-19 in favor of the Tigers with 4:22 left in the period.
Saunders tied it up at 21-all with a baseline jumper at 3:44 as Nyree Williams returned the lead momentarily to Towson hitting a pair at the free throw line before Joyous Tharrington knotted it up again at 23-23. Converting a Saunders steal, Tharrington handed Mason its first lead of the evening as Mason carried a 25-23 advantage into halftime.
Mason opened the second half with a 10-4 run to take a 35-27 advantage with 14:58 on the clock. Towson responded, however, with a 7-2 spurt of its own to cut the score to 37-34 with 11:51 remaining to play.
With Towson trailing by eight following an Easter jumper, the Tigers opened a 6-2 run to pull within four at 46-42 with just under five minutes to play. Coming out of the final media break, Saunders connected on a pair of free throws for a six-point Mason lead, but the lead was short-lived as Towson's Alliyah Berger scored five unanswered and Johnson connected on a one-and-one at the charity stripe to return the lead to Towson, 49-48, for the first time since the first half.
The Tigers closed out the final minute going 4-for-4 at the free throw line as Pickard hit her career-high setting third three-pointer with three seconds left on the clock to account for the final 53-51 score.
Mason faces a quick turnaround, welcoming No. 20 Delaware to the Patriot Center on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. tip.