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(Photo by George Mason Athletics)
Men's Basketball Advances After 60-54 Win Over Drexel
Courtesy: George Mason Athletics
Release: 03/09/2013

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(Photo courtesy Craig Bisacre/Creative Services/George Mason University)

RICHMOND, Va. - The fourth-seeded George Mason men's basketball team jumped out to a double-digit lead and held off No. 5-seed Drexel down the stretch, earning a 60-54 victory in the opening game of the 2013 Colonial Athletic Association Championship presented by Jani-King. Mason will move on to face top-seed Northeastern on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. (NBC Sports Network) at Richmond Coliseum.

Junior All-CAA Second Team selection Sherrod Wright led all scorers with 23 points, including an 11-for-12 performance at the free throw line, while classmates Bryon Allen and Vertrail Vaughns added 16 and 10, respectively. Drexel was led by 20 points for Frantz Massenat.

Mason transformed a 28-27 lead with 16:42 to play into a 15-point advantage in just over five minutes' time, as Vaughns' free throw made it 43-29 Patriots. That capped a 15-2 run that included a stretch of 13 unanswered points. It would be the largest lead of the game for either squad, as Drexel worked the deficit down to single digits in the closing minutes.

Allen hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to push Mason's lead back to 56-49 with 3:56 to play, but the Dragons scored a Kazembe Abif layup along with a Damion Lee 3-pointer which cut the gap to 56-54 with 1:22 left. Both teams had looks at 3-pointers which were off the mark, and Wright was fouled with 15 seconds to play, sinking both attempts to make it 58-54. A Derrick Thomas 3-pointer missed, and after collecting the rebound, Jonathan Arledge was fouled and made both free throws to seal the victory.

Both teams' offenses got off to a sluggish start, combining for just three field goals in the first four minutes of play. At the 15:27 mark, Vaughns hit a jumper to put Mason up 6-2, with Drexel taking their first lead of the day less than a minute later on a Daryl McCoy tip-in to make the score 7-6. Seven in a row by the Patriots pushed the margin back to the Patriots, 13-7. It would match their largest lead of the half, and they would lead until the 4:26 mark when a Massenat layup put Drexel on top, 21-20.

It stayed a one-possession game for the next three-plus minutes with three lead changes. Wright hit a layup plus the bonus free throw with 1:17 remaining in the half to put the Patriots back up, 25-23, and an Allen fast-break layup with 47 seconds remaining set the halftime score of 27-23 Patriots.

Both teams shot 34 percent in the opening period, led by Allen's nine points for Mason while Massenat contributed seven for the Dragons. Drexel won the rebounding battle 20-18, but committed three more turnovers. Included in that performance from the field was a combined 3-for-22 mark by both teams from 3-point range, and in total, there were six lead changes in the first half.

For the game, Mason narrowly won the shooting battle (38.3 percent/36.7 percent) and was outrebounded 33-28. McCoy had a game-high 12 boards, while Arledge led Mason with eight along with a career-high tying three blocks. Allen also finished with a game-high six steals, one shy of the CAA tournament single-game record.