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(Photo by George Mason Athletics)
Men's Basketball Holds Off Bucknell, 61-57
Courtesy: George Mason Athletics
Release: 11/30/2011

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FAIRFAX, Va. - Led by three double-digit scorers, the George Mason men's basketball team held off Bucknell, 61-57 Wednesday night. The win improved Mason's season mark to 5-2 and marked the 18th straight win at the Patriot Center, tying the building's record. Bucknell dropped to 5-3 with the loss.

Senior Ryan Pearson scored a team-high 16 points while redshirt sophomore Sherrod Wright added 14 and classmate Bryon Allen added 12. Allen, along with senior Mike Morrison, pulled down seven rebounds, while Allen's five assists were a game-high. Cameron Ayers had 23 points to lead the Bison while Mike Muscala contributed a double-double with 15 rebounds and 11 points.

Mason scored the game's first five points, part of a larger 14-4 stretch that included a 9-0 Patriots run. Bucknell answered with 10 in a row of their own to tie the score at 14, doing so on a Muscala dunk at the 9:18 mark. The Bison held the Patriots off the scoreboard for nearly six and a half minutes, ending when Morrison hit a jumper in the paint at the 8:29 mark.

Joshea Singleton gave BU its first lead at 18-16, and after Copes hit a jumper to tie it, Bryan Cohen hit a 3-pointer to make it 21-18 with 6:46 left in the first half. The Bison led for nearly three more minutes, until Allen completed a three-point play to tie the score at 25. Mason made four straight free throws to retake a four-point lead, and an Arledge trey from the top of the key made it 32-25 inside of two minutes left in the half.

Neither team found the basket from then on, giving the Patriots a seven-point halftime lead. Allen led all scorers in the opening half with 10 points while pulling down a team-high six rebounds. Muscala had a game-best nine rebounds in the first half while Willman led the Bison with six points.

Bucknell outscored Mason by an 11-4 margin in the first six minutes of the second half, tying the score at 36. From there, the teams continued at a frantic pace with four lead changes and two ties. The Bison held the advantage for a significant portion of the middle of the period, a lead as great as four points at 51-47 with 7:11 left. After a pair of free throws by Pearson tied the score at 53, Mason would not trail for the remainder of the game.

With Mason leading by four with three minutes left, an Ayers 3-pointer cut the margin to 57-56. Two more minutes passed with no scoring, but with 35 seconds remaining, Mike Morrison fired a pass underneath the basket to Allen whose reverse layup was on the mark. Muscala hit the back end of a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left, the final scoring for the Bison, as a pair of free throws by Mason closed out the victory. Muscala had a shot to tie the game at 60, but his 3-pointer with eight seconds left was offline, and Mason collected the rebound before Vertrail Vaughns' free throw sealed the win.

The Patriots are back in action Saturday night, dipping into Colonial Athletic Association play with a 7:30 p.m. contest at Towson.

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