CHARLESTON, S.C. - Senior Ryan Pearson went off for a career-high 35 points and
added a game-high 14 rebounds to power the George Mason men's basketball team
to an 84-76 victory at College of Charleston on Friday night at a sold-out TD
Arena. The victory improved Mason's record to 9-4 while the Cougars (10-3) saw
their 15-game home win streak, tied for 11th longest in the nation,
come to an end. The win was Mason's first over the College of Charleston ever,
snapping a three-game losing streak against the Southern Conference foe.
Pearson was one of three Patriots in double figure scoring,
as sophomore Vertrail Vaughns contributed
12 while classmate Bryon Allen had 11 points. Five Cougars scored in
double digits, led by 19 points from Antwaine Wiggins who also pulled down a
team-high nine rebounds.
Mason out-shot the Cougars by a 51.7-to-43.3 percent margin,
including 50 percent from beyond the arc (8-of-16), while converting 13 CofC
turnovers into 25 points. Pearson's scoring tally, among the top-20
performances all-time by a Mason player, is the highest output since Lamar
Butler had 36 points seven years ago to the day in a 76-65 win at Morehead
State. It was also the third-highest scoring total by a player at the four-year
old TD Arena.
Charleston opened on an 8-0 run but the Patriots quickly
countered to cut the margin to one-possession at 8-5. The Cougars preserved the
lead, going up by as many as seven at 19-12, before Mason responded with a 9-0
run to give the Patriots their first lead at the 11:06 mark on a bucket plus
the free throw by Pearson, one of four such plays he produced in the first
half. The difference remained within one score, switching sides four times
before five Patriot points in a row made it 31-26 inside of six minutes left in
the first half.
Mason went on to open up a double-digit lead, as large as 11
when another Pearson 3-point play made it 41-30 with 102 seconds remaining. The
Cougars got it back to single digits when Anthony Stitt's layup with 3.8
seconds showing on the clock went in, setting the halftime margin of 46-38.
It was the Patriots' largest lead on an opponent court at
halftime this season, and also Mason's most productive first half of the year.
Pearson scored 19 points in the frame, to lead all scorers.
The Patriots never trailed in the second half, but by no
means did they run away with the win. Down 11 at 70-59 with 6:24 remaining, the
Cougars rallied to close within two after a Stitt 3-pointer made it 74-72 with
3:09 left. Mason pushed it out to two possessions on a Pearson jumper inside of
two minutes, and Charleston got no closer than four from then on. After a Matt
Sundberg layup made it 80-76 with 20 seconds to go, Mason iced the win with two
foul shots each from Allen and senior Mike Morrison.
Mason returns home to resume Colonial Athletic Association
play on Monday afternoon, battling William & Mary at high noon in the