|Men's Basketball Tripped Up by Drexel, 58-54|
FAIRFAX, Va. - The George Mason men's basketball team could not hold off a feisty Drexel squad in the second half, falling 58-54 to the Dragons in Colonial Athletic Association action Thursday night at the Patriot Center. Both teams stand at 5-4 in conference play, as Mason dropped to 12-9 overall while the Dragons improved to 9-12.
Junior Jonathan Arledge scored a career high 14 points while classmate Sherrod Wright added 15 points to lead the Patriots. Damion Lee had 29 to power the Dragons' comeback. DU won the battle of the boards, 39-28, while the Patriots caused four more turnovers (16-12). Mason shot 41 percent for the game, including a 28-percent mark in the second half (7-25), as they were edged by the Dragons who shot 44 percent.
Mason saw its double-digit halftime lead wiped out by the Dragons, who started the first half on a 7-0 run as the Patriots missed their first six field goal attempts. Baskets by Bryon Allen and Patrick Holloway pushed the Patriot advantage back to 42-32, before the Dragons mounted a comeback. Trailing 49-41, Drexel scored nine unanswered to take their first lead on a Lee layup with 7:17 to go.
Wright put the Patriots back on top at 54-52 with 2:36 to go with his layup, but Lee answered with a jumper. Mason would not score again, as Lee hit a 3-pointer with 23 seconds on the clock. The Patriots turned the ball over twice in the waning seconds, unable to capitalize as the Dragons twice missed the front end of 1-and-1 free throw tries. Lee was fouled with two seconds to go and hit one of two from the line to seal the win.
Opening the game, the Patriots' stingy defense combined with shooting woes for the Dragons allowed Mason to storm out to a double-digit lead less than seven minutes into the contest. Held to just one free throw by Ruffin, Mason was up 12-1 after Arledge's jumper at the 13:23 mark. DU sank its first basket 30 seconds later, a jumper by Damion Lee, but the Dragons got no closer than nine in the half.
The Patriots would add to their lead, pushing it as high as 20 with 3:45 left as Edwards sank a 3-pointer to leave the score 33-13. That concluded a 14-4 run by Mason, while Dragons strung together six in a row to close to within 13 at 35-22. Arledge slammed home a feed from Wright and was fouled, completing the 3-point play to make it 38-22, Lee hit a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to make it 38-25 at the half.
Mason's 13-point margin matched its largest halftime lead of the season, powered by 54.2 percent field goal shooting (13-24) including 13 points from Wright and 10 by Arledge. Lee led the Dragons, who shot 40 percent (10-25), as he had nine points.
With just one day in between, the Patriots will be right back in action on Saturday afternoon, traveling to Harrisonburg for a 4 p.m. tilt with James Madison.