|Men's Basketball Uses Hot Start to Down Albany, 66-46|
FAIRFAX, Va. - A double-digit scoring run opened up the action on Tuesday night for the George Mason men's basketball team, fueling a 66-46 victory over Albany to close out the consolation round of the 2011 Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off. Mason improved to 4-2, winning back-to-back games for the first time this season and improving their home win streak to 17 games, while Albany dropped to 2-3.
Senior Ryan Pearson led a trio of double-figure scorers as he poured in a game-high 24 points while adding seven rebounds. Classmate Mike Morrison fell one rebound short of a double-double as he also scored 13 points, while sophomore Sherrod Wright scored 12 points to go with a career-high seven rebounds. The brunt of Mason's offense came in the paint, outscoring the Great Danes by a 52-22 margin. Albany was led by 15 points from Logan Aronhalt.
Mason opened the game on a torrid stretch of 12 unanswered points, holding the Great Danes off the scoreboard until the 15:36 mark when Watts's jumper ended the run. That started a 6-0 run for Albany which cut the margin to six, as close as they would get in the first half. An 8-2 run by the Patriots made it 22-8 with just over eight minutes showing on the clock, and Mason went on to lead by as many as 18 in the half after Morrison completed the three-point play with 5:13 left.
Another six in a row by the Great Danes closed the gap to 30-18 inside of two minutes, but a Pearson jumper at the 1:27 mark followed by a free throw with 17 seconds remaining by the junior set the halftime margin of 33-18.
Pearson was 6-of-9 in the first half en route to 13 points, while Copes pulled down six rebounds in the opening half. Logan Aronhalt had seven points to pace the Great Danes, who were held to 17.9 percent field goal shooting (5-28) while Mason connected on 14 of 31 attempts (45.2 percent). Mason also controlled the game down low, outrebounding Albany by a 26-17 margin and outscoring the visitors 26-6 in the paint.
Mason matched its 33-point scoring total in the second half, allowing the Great Danes no closer than 11 points in the stanza. The Patriots' offense improved to 50 percent shooting in the second half (14-28).
The Patriots will break for the Thanksgiving holiday and return to the court a week from Wednesday, hosting Bucknell on November 30 at 7 p.m.