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
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.