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(Photo by George Mason Athletics)
Men's Basketball Outlasts Rhode Island in Overtime, 92-90
Courtesy: George Mason Athletics
Release: 11/11/2011

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FAIRFAX, Va. - Senior Ryan Pearson scored a career high 28 points and added 12 rebounds to lead the George Mason men's basketball team to victory in its season opener against Rhode Island, 92-90, in overtime Friday night at the Patriot Center.

Pearson was one of four Mason (1-0) scorers in double figures, as Sherrod Wright and Vertrail Vaughns each chipped in 17 points while Mike Morrison added 11. In a game characterized by 22 lead changes and 17 tie scores, the Patriots held off the Rams (0-1) by shooting 51.4 percent from the field (37-72), including a 23-37 mark in the second half and overtime. Rhode Island had five scorers reach double figures, led by 38 from Jamal Wilson.

The eventual game winning bucket came on layups by Pearson and Wright inside the final three minutes of the extra period, as neither team connected on a field goal in the final 2:22 of the contest. It was Mason's first home overtime game since February 9, 2010, a 82-77 win over VCU.

Tied early, the Rams used a 7-0 run to take the lead at 11-4 less than three minutes into the contest. Vaughns ended the run with a 12-footer , part of an 8-0 run which the redshirt sophomore also bookended with a pair of free throws at the 13:37 mark. The teams swapped the next baskets but URI regained a 19-14 lead after Orion Outerbridge's jumper with just over nine minutes left. The Ram advantage made its way to double digits at 27-17 after a 14-3 stretch of scoring. Pearson ended it with a dunk at the 2:55 mark after a baseball pass off the inbounds from Wright.

Mason answered, scoring seven straight to make it a one-possession margin at 27-24 inside of two minutes left in the first half. Allen hit the back end of a pair of free throws with 44 seconds remaining to tie the score at 31, and each team scored once more to set the halftime score of 33-33.


Morrison had seven points to lead the Patriots, while Wilson had a game high nine in the first half. Mason shook off a sluggish start from the field to outshoot the Rams 40-to-36.1 percent in the opening half, while URI had a narrow 25-24 rebounding advantage.


The Patriots struck first in the second half, but Rhode Island maintained possession of the lead through most of the opening minutes. Allen ran the length of the court and laid it in at the 16:40 mark to make the score 41-40 in favor of the Patriots. The teams frantically battled from then on, and neither team could get a lead greater than one possession.


Mason got to its biggest lead of the game at 57-52 but a 12-2 run by the Rams returned the lead to the visitors. The Patriots came back with about six minutes remaining and took the lead on a Pearson layup, 67-66. The back and forth battle continued from there.


The Patriot lead was 78-77 and with the clock running inside of 40 seconds, Wright put back a missed Vaughns jumper to make it a 3-point margin, but Holton drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 30 seconds left to tie the  score at 80. Mason had the last shot in regulation, but Pearson's trey was off the mark and the buzzer sounded as the teams scrambled for the rebound, sending the game to overtime.

The Patriots next head to Blacksburg, Va., to take part in the 2011 Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off, where they face Florida International Monday night at 9:30 p.m.

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