Mason knocks off ODU

Immediately after their victory on Monday afternoon over William & Mary, the George Mason men’s basketball senior class told their teammates in the locker room the importance of a victory on Thursday at Old Dominion. The Patriots took it to heart, as they pulled off a nearly wire-to-wire 63-54 victory over the Monarchs before 7,783 fans at the Constant Center.

It was just the second win for Mason (11-4, 3-0 CAA) in the building, and the first since 2004. The Monarchs, previously unbeaten in CAA play, dropped to 2-1 while falling to 7-8 overall.

Two Mason seniors led the way, as Ryan Pearson collected his sixth double-double of the year while Mike Morrison fell one rebound short along with 10 points. Pearson, meanwhile, had 16 points along with a game-high 14 rebounds. Joining the duo in double figures was sophomores Bryon Allen and Vertrail Vaughns, who chipped in 14 and 13 points respectively. Kent Bazemore had 17 points to pace the Monarch offense, which was plagued by 29.5 percent field goal shooting compared to a 42.9 percent clip by the Patriots.

ODU controlled the glass with a 47-37 advantage, including a 22-to-8 lead in offensive rebounds, but the Patriots’ defense limited those offensive rebounds to just two second-chance points.

After the Monarchs took an early 8-4 lead, the Patriots responded with a 13-2 run which gave them a 17-10 advantage into the first scheduled timeout. That margin grew to 12 and stayed in double digits for much of the first half, before the Monarchs mounted an 8-0 run to pull within four at 28-24. The Monarchs would get even closer, including a basket by Cooper with less than 20 seconds remaining in the half which set the eventual halftime margin of 34-31.

It was the Patriots’ first halftime lead at the Constant Center in five years, dating back to a 31-21 halftime advantage over ODU on January 6, 2007. Pearson matched Bazemore with a first-half high 11 points while adding a game-high eight rebounds, joined in double figures by Morrison who contributed 10 points.

In the second half, the Monarchs kept it close, pulling with two points after a 3-pointer by Donte Hill at the 13:26 mark made it 45-43. Five in a row by Mason opened up a 7-point lead, and ODU got no closer than five from then on.

The Patriots, who have won four straight, next square off against the only other CAA unbeaten, hosting Georgia State on Saturday night at 7 p.m.


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