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Mason hands Dukes first home loss

George Mason used a 17-2 run midway through the second half and held off James Madison the rest of the way to record a 75-73 win in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball game Saturday at the Convocation Center.

Mason improved to 14-5 with the win and 6-2 in the CAA. JMU lost its second straight league game to fall to 15-5 overall and 5-3 in the CAA. The Dukes suffered their first home loss after starting the year 9-0.

JMU trailed 33-32 at the half but then used a 14-5 run out of the break to build an eight-point lead, its largest of the game, at 46-38. The Dukes were still up by eight at 50-42 with 12:06 when Mason went on its run.

Mike Morrison’s dunk and Cam Long’s three started the run before reserve Isaiah Tate then scored 10 of the game’s next 12 points, including a pair of threes and a steal for a layup.

The Dukes recovered with a quick 6-0 spurt on a Devon Moore (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) layup, Denzel Bowles (Virginia Beach, Va./Kempsville) tip in, and Humpty Hitchens (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) jumper to get right back in the game at 59-58 Mason with 6:31 to go.

However, JMU was never able to get over a two-point hurdle the rest of the way. Three times the Dukes had a chance on offense to tie or take the lead down the stretch but came up short on each opportunity.

With 1:37 to go, JMU forced a turnover under the Mason basket only to see Moore’s drive through the right side of the lane came up empty. Long responded with a jumper on the other end to go back up by four.

A Julius Wells (Toledo, Ohio/Libbey) layup put it back to two at 70-68 with 39 seconds left, but Mason was able to put the game away at the free throw line, hitting 5-of-8 in the final 30 seconds. The Dukes trailed by four at 74-70 with 10 seconds left when sophomore Andrey Semenov’s (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School) three-pointer made it a one-point game. JMU fouled before the inbounds pass, but with only 0.8 seconds remaining, the Dukes couldn’t get off a heave on the final missed free throw.

Long led the Patriots with 30 points to record the first 30-point game against JMU since Hofstra’s Charles Jenkins on Feb. 18, 2009. Long hit 8-of-9 field goals, including all four of his three-point attempts, while also going 10-for-13 at the line. He added five assists and four rebounds. Over his last five games, Long is now averaging 21 points per game.

Mason put three other players in double figures with Ryan Pearson tallying 14 points and six boards. Tate finished with 12 points while Luke Hancock added 11.

Bowles had his 10th double-double of the season with 21 points and a season-high matching 14 rebounds. He added four assists and tied his career high with six blocks.

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