RICHMOND, Ky. – Despite frigid temperatures outside, the George Mason women's basketball team had no problem heating up inside on the hardwood Sunday.
Sophomore Nicole Cardaño-Hillary
scored a career-high 33 points to lead the Patriots to a 91-75 victory over Eastern Kentucky at McBrayer Arena. Mason shot a season-high 57.6 percent and matched their season-best with 91 points in its final non-conference road game of the regular season.
Cardano-Hillary scored 23 points in the second half and became just the 18th player in program history to score at least 30 points. She shot 12 of 21 from the field and made all eight free throws. The shooting guard, whose previous career high was 28 points, also had five assists, five rebounds and two steals.
Junior Jacy Bolton
added a season-high 18 points and junior Alexsis Grate
and sophomore Marika Korpinen
each had 10 points as eight Mason players scored.
The Patriots (6-4) pulled away with a monster 33-point fourth quarter. Holding just a two-point lead after three quarters, Mason shot 92.3 percent in the final period, making 12 of 13 shots. The Patriots scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to grab an eight-point cushion, capped off by a 3-point play by Cardano-Hillary, who suffered a cut above her eye in the third quarter before returning and later needing two stitches.
The Colonels (1-8), however, didn't go quietly. They shot 41.9 percent for the game and pulled within six, 81-75, with 2:40 to go. But the Patriots weathered the storm, making its six final free throws in addition to layups from Grate and senior Jewel Triggs
to end the game on a 10-0 run.
Bolton was 7 of 9 from the field with four 3-pointers. She also grabbed five rebounds, dished out three assists and nabbed three steals. Korpinen, who scored in double figures for the fourth time this season, also had three assists and three steals.
McCool, playing in front of a large crowd of family and friends from her hometown of St. Leon, Ind., two hours away, tied a career high with eight points in addition to five rebounds.
In addition to the hot shooting from the field, the Patriots also shot a season-high 83.3 percent from the free-throw line. They also dominated the paint (40-22) and scored 23 points off 16 turnovers by EKU.
The Patriots now take a nearly two-week long break for final exams. They'll return to the court to play Houston at 4 p.m. on Dec. 21 at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Va.