|Men's Basketball Blasts VCU for School-Record 12th Straight Victory, 71-51|
RICHMOND, Va. - The George Mason men's basketball team set a new school record with its 12th consecutive victory on Tuesday night, and the Patriots did it in dominating fashion. Mason opened strong and never let up in a 71-51 victory at the Siegel Center, just the third Mason win in the building's history and ensuring the Patriots at least a share of the Colonial Athletic Association regular season crown.
Mason now stands at 22-5 and 14-2 in CAA play, while the Rams sit two games back at 12-4 in conference (20-8 overall). With two games remaining on the CAA slate, the Patriots stand two games ahead of Old Dominion and Hofstra as well. Along with Coastal Carolina's loss to Gardner-Webb on Tuesday night, the Patriots now possess the longest active winning streak in the nation.
Five Patriots scored in double digits with junior Ryan Pearson leading the way as he chipped in 18 points. Senior Cam Long added 14 points while redshirt freshman Vertrail Vaughns added 12. Sophomore Luke Hancock scored 10 points, all coming on a perfect evening from the charity stripe. Rob Brandenburg was VCU's lone double-figure scorer as he had 12 points.
The teams swapped baskets in the opening minutes, with Cornelius giving Mason its first lead with a layup to make it 4-2 inside of three minutes expired. That was part of a 11-0 run that held the Rams off the scoreboard for better than four minutes. A three-point play by Skeen ended the run, but the Patriots would match that nine-point advantage at 16-7 after a Vaughns 3-pointer from the left corner. The redshirt freshman repeated, this time from the right side, to make the score 19-9 at the 11:08 mark.
A 6-0 run by the Rams cut the score to 19-15, but Morrison silenced the crowd with a turnaround jumper from 10 feet. After a Rams bucket, Mason used an 13-2 run to open up a lead as large as 15, with Vaughns swishing a 3-pointer from the right side as the clock expired to set the halftime margin at 34-19. Vaughns led all scorers with 12 points in the first half, going 4-for-5 from beyond the arc. VCU, meanwhile, saw Brandenburg lead the way with eight as the Rams were out-shot by a 44.8-to-29.6 percent margin.
VCU opened the second half with five straight points, but Long answered with a pair of 3-pointers to make it 40-24. At that point, the advantage represented the Patriots' largest-ever lead inside the Siegel Center, which opened for the 1999-2000 season.
The Patriots were not done yet. An 11-0 run, ending as Pearson converted a layup in the paint plus the bonus foul shot, made the score 45-24 with 15 minutes remaining to go in the game. VCU got as close as 15 but the Patriots mounted another 10-0 run to expand their lead to 61-36 and the advantage grew as large as 27 in the second half.
Mason will look to keep its winning streak going as it steps out of conference play for the Sears BracketBusters, traveling to Missouri Valley foe Northern Iowa on Saturday in a 7 p.m. game televised live on ESPN2.