(photo courtesy Paradise Jam)
ST. THOMAS, V.I. - Redshirt junior Johnny Williams posted his
first career double-double, and paired with clutch shots by classmates Sherrod
Wright and Vertrail Vaughns, the George Mason men's basketball team overtook
Mercer, 52-49, in the opening game of the 2012 Ezybonds Global Payments U.S.
Virgin Islands Paradise Jam.
With the win, the
Patriots (2-1) move on to face the victor of the New Mexico/Illinois-Chicago
game that immediately followed. The Bears (2-1), meanwhile, suffered their
first loss of the season and face the nonwinner of that game.
Williams posted 16
points and a career-high 10 rebounds in the win and also added two assists,
while Wright joined him in double-figure scoring with 14 points. The Patriots
overcame 28 percent field goal shooting in the first half with a 13-of-17
performance in the final 20 minutes (76.5 percent) to earn the victory. Mercer,
meanwhile, shot 36.4 percent from the field (16-44) and was outrebounded,
27-25. Leading the way was 17 points from Travis Smith.
Trailing by as many as
six with six minutes to go in the contest, the Patriots stormed back with a 7-0
run, taking the lead on a Wright jumper at the 2:19 mark. Smith and Wright each
sank a pair of free throws, and what proved to be the pivotal basket came on a
13-foot jumper from the right side by Vaughns, making the score 48-45 with just
over a minute to go. Smith hit two more, but a Williams layup pushed it back to
three points and a pair of Wright free throws at the 6-second mark sealed the
win, despite a late dunk by Daniel Coursey.
It was hardly a
one-sided affair, as there were a total of eight lead changes and six tie
scores over the course of the game. Mason outscored the Bears 24-18 in the
paint, but was held without a 3-pointer compared to a 5-19 performance beyond
the arc by the Bears. It was the first time Mason did not complete a 3-pointer
in a game since February 12, 2009 at Delaware.