Mason grinds out 54-50 win over ODU

In front of a capacity Homecoming crowd of 9,840, senior Ryan Pearson posted his 10th double-double of the year and the George Mason men’s basketball team grinded out a 54-50 Colonial Athletic Association victory over Old Dominion.

The win, Mason’s 16th straight at home in conference play, kept the Patriots in first place in the CAA standings at 11-2 (19-6 overall) while the Monarchs dropped out of the top spot, falling to 10-3 in conference and 15-10 overall.

Pearson had game highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds, the latter leading a Patriot effort that held a 43-39 advantage off the glass over ODU. Three Monarchs scored in double figures, led by 13 points from Trian Iliadis. Chris Cooper posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Both teams struggled from the field, with the Monarchs holding a 32.8-to-27.7 percent advantage over Mason. The teams combined for just three 3-pointers, and the Patriots committed 21 turnovers compared to 18 for ODU.

Mason overcame a poor start to the game from the field, as the Patriots connected on just one of their first 17 field goal attempts, a Vaughns jumper at the 17:13 mark. The Patriots were held without a field goal for more than 10 minutes, a streak broken by a Cornelius layup with 6:50 left in the first half. That sparked a 9-2 run which gave the Patriots a 16-15 advantage after Vaughns’ layup was good with 4:31 remaining.

Tied at 18, the Monarchs closed out the half with an 8-2 run, with the lone field goal by the Patriots in the final four minutes coming on a dunk by Copes with 23 seconds left. Iliadis hit a layup with 15 seconds showing on the clock, closing out the first-half scoring and setting the halftime margin of 26-20.

Copes was Mason’s leading scorer in the half with five points, as the Patriots shot just 20 percent from the field (6-30) compared to a 40 percent clip for ODU (10-25). Bazemore had seven points in the first half, highest among the Monarchs.

Into the second, the Monarchs scored the first basket for their largest lead at 28-20, but the Patriots pieced together a 16-2 run including 12 unanswered to grab the advantage. It grew to seven after a pair of Vaughns free throws made it 40-33 with seven minutes to go, but ODU got it within one possession inside of two minutes left as a Cooper jumper made it 46-43.

Mason answered with five in a row, including a pair of Mike Morrison free throws with 24 seconds on the clock, to push their lead to eight, and the Patriots held on to complete their first season sweep of Old Dominion in 10 seasons.

The sell-out was Mason’s first of the season, and represented the seventh time in program history that the attendance reached the capacity mark of 9,840. The Patriots have been victorious in six of those seven games.

Mason will look to keep its conference home winning streak alive when the Green and Gold next battle Hofstra on Wednesday night at 7 p.m., a game that will be broadcast on ESPN3.


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