|Men's Basketball Captures 75-69 Victory at UNCW|
WILMINGTON, N.C. - Four Patriots reached double figures in scoring as the George Mason men's basketball team defeated UNC Wilmington, 75-69, on Saturday night at Trask Coliseum. The win keeps Mason (21-6, 13-2) atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings and secures a top-four seed and first-round bye in next month's CAA Championship. UNCW dropped to 9-16 and 5-10 in conference play as Mason swept the Seahawks for the fourth straight year.
Sophomore Sherrod Wright led the Patriots with 16 points, including a perfect 6-of-6 night at the charity stripe for the CAA's top free throw shooter. CAA Player of the Year candidate Ryan Pearson added 15 points, team bests of seven rebounds and three steals, along with two assists and a block. Sophomores Bryon Allen and Vertrail Vaughns each added 10 points while Allen dished a career-high eight assists.
Adam Smith led the Seahawk effort with 20 points while Cedrick Williams had a game-high eight rebounds, as UNCW won the rebounding battle 36-to-32. Mason held the advantage from the field, though, shooting 51.8 percent (29-56) compared to a 41 percent clip for UNCW (25-61).
Mason connected on seven of its first 11 field goal attempts as it took a 17-8 lead less than seven minutes into the game. The Patriots went up by as many as 10 after a Wright 3-pointer made the score 20-10 with 11:30 left in the half, but the Seahawks worked the lead down to single digits.
UNCW got within three after a Smith jumper made it 24-21, capping an 11-4 run with just over seven minutes remaining in the period. Mason pushed it back out to eight and at 34-30 inside of a minute left after Pearson's second trey. Cedrick Williams hit a jumper with 23 seconds on the clock to set the eventual halftime score of 37-32.
After the strong start from the field, the Patriots were seven of their next 19 attempts to finish the half shooting 46.7 percent, bettering the Seahawks 13-of-33 mark (39.4 percent). UNCW won the battle of the boards by a 22-16 margin. Pearson was the game's leading scorer in the first half, pouring in 13 points while Deloach paced the Seahawks with 12.
UNCW closed within one point at 44-43 and had a chance to take the lead, but Williams missed a pair of free throw attempts and Mason responded with a 12-0 run, giving them their largest lead at 56-43. The Seahawks were held scoreless for five and a half minutes, with Williams ending the drought at the 11:30 mark with a jumper.
Mason's advantage grew to 13 at 65-52 after a Pearson layup with less than six minutes showing on the clock, but the Seahawks whittled down the lead , drawing as close as four after three Tanner Milson free throws left the score 70-66. Mason outscored the Seahawks 5-3 in the waning seconds, with all of those points coming at the free throw line.
The Patriots next host rival VCU in a battle of first-place teams on Tuesday night at 9 p.m., a game that will be televised live on Comcast SportsNet.