Player of the Year candidate Ryan Pearson posted his 12th
double-double of the season and the George Mason men's basketball team staved
off a late Lamar rally, downing the Cardinals 75-71 on Saturday afternoon. The win,
part of the Sears BracketBusters series, was the fifth-straight for Mason
(23-6), while the Cardinals dropped to 17-10.
game-highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds, and was joined in double figures by
sophomore Sherrod Wright who chipped in 13 points. Three Cardinals reached
double-digit scoring, led by 13 points from Brandon Davis.
Patriots led by as many as three before the Cardinals embarked on a 12-0 run,
holding Mason off the board for more than three and a half minutes and building
a 21-12 lead. The Patriots responded with a 12-0 run of their own in kind, part
of a larger 27-3 scoring spree in which they held Lamar to no field goals for
more than eight and a half minutes. The run was ended by a Mike James jumper at
the 4:58 mark, but followed by a highlight-reel dunk by Erik Copes matched the
15-point lead as the largest of the half.
Mason went on to a 13-point halftime lead of 47-34, representing the most
first-half scoring for the Patriots this season. It was fueled by 68 percent
field goal shooting (17-25), compared to a 46.2 percent mark (12-26) for Lamar.
Mason also won the rebounding battle, 13-12, in the opening 20 minutes.
lead remained in double digits for more than 10 minutes into the second half,
but the Cardinals chipped away and got it to seven, 57-50, after a James
jumper. That was part of a stretch where Lamar outscored the Patriots by a
25-11 margin, eventually retaking the lead on a James fast-break dunk at the
responded with an Andre Cornelius 3-pointer inside of three minutes, and a
Bryon Allen jumper 50 seconds later pushed the Patriot advantage to 73-69. A pair of Davis free throws at the 1:49 mark
cut it back to one possession, but Pearson sank two free throws of his own with
six seconds remaining after grabbing the rebound off an Anthony Miles missed jumper,
securing the win on Senior Day. Prior to the game, Pearson and Cornelius were
honored along with Mike Morrison and team manager Killian Reilly in the final
home game of their careers.
Patriots close out the 2011-12 regular season with a two-game road trip,
beginning Wednesday night at Northeastern. Tip-off from Matthews Arena in
Boston is set for 7 p.m.
NOTES: Saturday's game was also the final home contest for George Mason University President Dr. Alan Merten, who will retire at the end of June ... Mason's coaching staff wore "On the Line" pins, part of an initiative to raise awareness for prostate cancer research.