Mason holds off JMU, 89-79

Senior Ryan Pearson posted his ninth double-double of the year with 29 points and 15 rebounds, pacing the George Mason men’s basketball team to an 89-79 victory over James Madison on Saturday afternoon in front of 8,014 at the Patriot Center. The win keeps Mason (18-5, 10-1) atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings, while the Dukes dropped to 10-12, 3-8 in conference play.

Pearson’s totals were game highs in both categories, including matching his career high in rebounds, as he was one of four Patriots to score in double figures. Sophomores Bryon Allen and Vertrail Vaughns each chipped in 14 points, while senior Andre Cornelius had 10 points. Four Dukes also reached double digits, led by 29 points from Humpty Hitchens.

There were nine lead changes in the game, but all of them were in the first half. JMU jumped out to a 5-1 lead, and after the Patriots went up three on a layup by Pearson which made the score 11-8, the margin remained within one possession for nearly eight more minutes.  An 8-0 run, capped by an Allen layup at the 5:42 mark, made the score 32-24. JMU answered, responding with a 13-2 run of their own which put them ahead 40-36 inside of two minutes. The Patriots finished off the opening half with seven of the final eight points, though, including a Pearson layup at the buzzer which sent them into the locker room up 43-41.

Mason exploded in the second half, scoring the first seven points and pushing their lead to double digits for the first time with less than four minutes expired. Leading the whole way, Mason led by as many as 12 before a pair of A.J. Davis free throws eventually pulled the dukes within a basket, 74-72, with 3:40 left in the contest. Mason answered with a 13-3 run over the next three minutes, pushing the advantage back to 12 at 87-75.

The Patriots will look for their seventh straight victory on the road Wednesday as they next travel to Delaware. Tip time is set for 7 p.m.

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