|Men's Basketball Falls at UNCW, 82-74|
WILMINGTON, N.C. - The George Mason men's basketball team could not stop a late charge by the UNCW Seahawks as the Patriots dropped a 82-74 Colonial Athletic Association decision on Saturday afternoon at Trask Coliseum. With the loss, the Patriots (9-7, 2-2 CAA) fall back to .500 in conference play, while the Seahawks improved to 1-3 in conference and 6-10 overall.
Redshirt junior Sherrod Wright led the Patriots with 25 points and six rebounds, while freshman Patrick Holloway added 11 points and junior Johnny Williams matched Wright off the glass with six boards. UNCW controlled the rebounding battle, though, by a 51-27 margin including a 21-6 advantage in offensive boards. Chris Dixon scored 30 points to lead the way for the Seahawks while Tyree Graham added 15 and Keith Rendleman had 11 points along with 13 rebounds.
Mason jumped out to an early 5-0 lead behind a Williams layup and a Wright 3-pointer, but the Seahawks countered with a run of their own. Trailing 8-4, UNCW scored a 17-4 stretch over four and a half minutes, pushing their lead to 21-12 at the 11:22 mark.
It would be their largest lead of the period, as the Patriots would chip away for the remainder of the half. A Holloway jumper with 2:17 to go cut the margin to 1 at 34-33, before Craig Ponder hit two free throws and Vertrail Vaughns sank the front end of a pair from the stripe, setting the halftime score of 36-34.
Wright led the Patriots with 10 points in the half, while Dixon had 11 to pace the Seahawk offense, which shot 37 percent compared to a 46 percent mark for the Patriots but won the rebounding battle, 24-13 and had 14 second chance points.
The Patriots exploded out of the locker room, scoring nine in a row to retake the lead. Mason would to on to lead by as many as nine at 50-41 with six minutes expired after the Paris Bennett layup plus the bonus. UNCW responded this time with a 9-0 run of its own, tying the score on a Dixon jumper. Mason would continue to lead, holding the advantage until a 6-0 run by the Seahawks put the hosts up, 65-64.
Corey Edwards tied the score at 65 hitting one of two from the line at the 5:55 mark, but the Seahawks took control with a 8-2 run that pushed their lead to six, taking just 90 seconds to do so. A dunk by Williams cut the margin to one-possession at 75-72 with 2:14 remaining, but the Seahawks pushed it back out after both Ponder and Rendleman hit both their free throw attempts. UNCW would salt the game away in the final two seconds with three free throws.
Mason will return home for its next contest, hosting James Madison on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in Fairfax.