Mason women's basketball defeats Utah Valley 82-64 in home opener

Janaa Pickard hit a career high 21 points and 21 rebounds against Utah Valley (photo by John Irwin).
Janaa Pickard hit a career high 21 points and 21 rebounds against Utah Valley (photo by John Irwin).

Mason women’s basketball sailed past Utah Valley last night, in an 82-64 win in the team’s home opener at the Patriot Center. Senior Janaa Pickard tallied a career-high 21 points and 21 rebounds in the last home opener of her Mason career, sealing the victory for the Patriots.

“We have kind of nicknamed her ’The X-Factor,’” said Nyla Milleson, the Patriots’ head coach. “I truly believe that she’s the X-Factor for us to be successful.”

Mason (2-1) out rebounded the Wolverines 53-36 in the game, which led to 27 second-chance points and was the catalyst for the Patriots’ win.

“I just wanted to rebound,” Pickard said. “That was just my focus for today.”

The Patriots started their season on the road with last night’s game marking the third game in five days for the team.

“We just came off of a tough road swing, sitting on the bus for hours,” Pickard said. “I just feel like we pulled together and showed that we can be that championship team that we want to be because the season’s long just like our days have been.”

Mason dominated the first half, shooting 54 percent on three-pointers and 50 percent from the field, while weathering a 12-2 Wolverine run. Utah Valley (1-2) only shot 12.5 percent on three’s, while being out rebounded by the Patriots 27-19 in the first half. Mason played with energy and consistency, and led 56-34 heading into the locker room at the half.

“Basketball is a game of runs,” Pickard said. “Being an older person on the team, I want to be that person that can calm everyone down and just assure us that basketball is a 40 minute game and we don’t have to get excited if other teams make runs.”

With Pickard’s senior leadership, the Patriots played with consistency and poise. It was evident that the players have bought into Milleson’s system, and it showed in the varying combinations of players that Milleson put on the court that the chemistry of the team remained the same.

Sophomore Taylor Brown tallied 17 points in the game, while senior Kyana Jacobs gave Mason a 4-2 lead in the first minute of play and ended the night with 13 points respectively.

“She’s another one who has really bought in, and she wants to do whatever it takes to win,” Milleson said. “We’re having good leadership right now and I’m proud of this basketball team.” 


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