Mason rallies to beat William & Mary
Forced to overcome a double-digit first-half deficit, the George Mason men’s basketball team exploded with a 16-0 run to begin the second half, providing the cushion in a 70-56 Colonial Athletic Association victory over William & Mary on Monday afternoon at the Patriot Center.
The Patriots (10-4, 2-0 CAA) won their third straight game while the Tribe dropped to 2-12, 0-2 in conference play.
Mason saw four players score in double figures, led by a season-high 20 points from senior Andre Cornelius including five 3-pointers. Fellow senior Mike Morrison chipped in 14 points along with a team-high six rebounds, while senior Ryan Pearson and sophomore Bryon Allen rounded out the group with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Marcus Thornton led the way for William & Mary as he scored 23 points while Tim Rusthoven added 11.
Pearson got the Patriots on the board at the 18:34 mark with a layup, sparking a run of five in a row before W&M scored on a Tom Schalk basket. Fred Heldring tied the score with a 3-pointer, and he finished off the 7-0 run with a jumper to give the Tribe their first lead. An Allen 3-pointer returned the advantage to Mason, but the Tribe used a 13-2 run to open up a double-digit lead at 20-10 with 9:27 left in the first half.
Mason stormed back with eight in a row to cut it to 20-18 with eight minutes to go in the opening period, but another run by the Tribe, this time 7-2, pushed the visitors’ lead to 27-20. Behind the hot hand of Cornelius, the Patriots returned fire, closing the half on a 12-4 run to head into the locker room up 32-31.
Thornton was the first half’s leading scorer with 15, while Cornelius contributed 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting. As a team, the Tribe out-shot the Patriots by a 48-to-44 percent margin and held an 18-10 advantage on the boards while turning the ball over 10 times compared to Mason’s six.
Another huge Patriots run opened the second half, as Mason pushed its lead to double digits for the first time thanks to 16 unanswered points. Tim Rusthoven stopped the run when he connected on a free throw with 13:26 showing on the clock. Mason’s lead stayed in double figures for the duration, though the Tribe mounted a 9-0 run in just three minutes to cut the gap to 10 points at 63-53.
The Patriots will look to make it three straight when they travel to Old Dominion on Thursday evening. Tip off from Norfolk is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet.