FAIRFAX, Va. - Behind season highs from four different George Mason men's
basketball players, the Patriots opened strong and held off UMBC down the
stretch to earn a 74-63 victory on Tuesday night at the Patriot Center. Mason
improved to 6-3 while the Retrievers fell to 2-6.
Redshirt junior Sherrod Wright scored a game-high 23 points,
one shy of his career high, to lead the quartet of double-digit Mason scorers.
Freshman Marko Gujanicic added 14 points while junior Jonathan Arledge
contributed 11 and sophomore Erik Copes had a career-best 10 points. Leading
the way for UMBC was Brett Roseboro with 14 points.
After trading field goals with the Retrievers to open the
contest, Mason stormed out to a double-digit lead thanks to a 19-2 run spanning
nearly nine minutes. In that time, Mason scored 13 unanswered points, holding
UMBC without a field goal for just under six minutes until Wertz's 3-pointer at
the 10:09 mark.
The Patriot lead would grow to 19 after a Gujanicic free
throw at the 4:04 mark left the score 30-11 in favor of the home team. UMBC
found an answer, though, closing out the half on a 9-0 run to set the halftime
score of 30-20. The Patriots, who had begun the game 8-of-14 from the field,
closed the half shooting 2-of-14 as the offense stagnated.
Wright led the way in the first 20 minutes, scoring 13
points on 5-of-6 shooting including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. The Patriots
held the rebounding advantage, 21-20, while also outshooting the Retrievers,
35.7-to-30.8 percent in the first half.
Both teams offenses hit their stride in the second half,
with Mason shooting 57.7 percent compared to a 54.8 percent clip for UMBC. The
Retrievers extended their run into the second half, making it 12 straight
points to cut the gap to seven. They would get as close as six after Ryan Cook's
3-pointer at the 14-minute mark made it 45-39.
Mason pushed it back to double-digits in the final minutes,
going up by as many as 13 in the second half with less than three minutes to
The Patriots are back in action at home on Saturday, hosting
Northern Iowa. Tip time is set for 6 p.m. and the contest will be televised nationally
on NBC Sports Network.