George Mason falls at Bucknell, 61-56

The George Mason men’s basketball team could not overcome a hot-shooting start by the Bucknell Bison and the Patriots late rally fell short, as Mason was defeated 61-56 on Tuesday night at Sojka Pavilion. In the first of four straight road games, Mason dropped to 1-1 following the loss, while the Bison improved to 2-0.

Junior Sherrod Wright led the Patriots with 16 points, while freshman Patrick Holloway joined him in double figures with 11 points and freshman Marko Gujanicic led the team with six rebounds. Three Bison scored in double figures, led by a double-double from Mike Muscala (16 points, 15 rebounds) and 16 points from Bryson Johnson.

Bucknell had the hot start out of the opening tip, scoring the first seven points including back-to-back baskets by Muscala to start the game. Mason, meanwhile, was unsuccessful on its first six shot attempts, until a Vertrail Vaughns runner at the 14:53 mark broke the drought.  The Bison would push their lead to eight at 10-2 after Cameron Ayers’ 3-pointer 30 seconds later, and when Johnson’s third 3-pointer of the night went in at the 6:24 mark, the Bison lead went to 28-19.

It would be their largest of the first half, as the Patriots worked down the deficit, getting it down to one possession on Bryon Allen’s 3-pointer with 90 seconds remaining in the period. Muscala hit the back-end of a pair of free throws, and that would set the halftime margin of 31-27.

Wright, junior Johnny Williams and Allen all scored five points in the opening half to pace the Patriots, who shot 41.7 percent from the field (10-24) compared to a 61.1 percent clip for the Bison (11-18), including  4-of-5 from beyond the arc. Johnson was Bucknell’s leading scorer in the first half with 10 points, including three treys on three attempts.

Mason cut it to a two-point game early in the second half, but a four-point play completed by Johnson and a Muscala layup pushed the lead back to eight at 39-31 with just over five minutes expired. It was part of a 9-0 run that made it 42-33 at the second media timeout.

The Bucknell lead would grow as large as 13 in the second half, but a late charge by the Patriots cut the deficit to four. Holloway hit back to back 3-pointers and Allen stole it and laid it in, making the score 56-52. Mason got even closer, as layups by Wright and Allen left it a 3-point game, 59-56, with 1:17 to go. Mason had a chance inside of 15 seconds to tie the score, but Holloway’s 3-point attempt from the right side was off the mark. A pair of Muscala free throws sealed the win for the Bison.

Next up for the Patriots is a trip to St. Thomas, where they will take part in the 2012 Ezybonds Global Payments U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam. Mason opens play Friday at 1:30 p.m. eastern, taking on Mercer.

Augusta Health Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press