Strong second half pushes Mason past Manhattan

Holding a slim two-point halftime advantage, the George Mason men’s basketball team exploded in the second half en route to a 81-61 victory over Manhattan College on Friday evening at the Patriot Center. The Patriots improved to 8-4 while the Jaspers dropped to 8-5, snapping a five-game winning streak.

Seniors Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison each posted double-doubles, as four Patriots reached double-digit scoring. Pearson had a game-high 25 points to go with 10 rebounds, while Morrison contributed 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Sophomores Vertrail Vaughns and Bryon Allen rounded out the double figure scorers, chipping in 13 and 10 points, respectively.

Manhattan was led by 18 points from George Beamon and 10 points from Michael Alvarado, as they were out-shot from the field by Mason by a 54.9-to-30.5 percent margin.

The Jaspers jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the opening minutes of the game, but a Vaughns 3-pointer with 14:06 left in the half gave Mason the lead back at 8-7, part of an 8-0 run which ended with Morrison finding sophomore Sherrod Wright with a bounce pass in transition, who then dunked it to make the score 11-7 with 12:28 remaining in the first. The lead grew to 15-9 after an Andre Cornelius trey, extending the run to 12-3 in favor of the home team.

Six straight by the Jaspers tied the score at 15-all, with Pearson breaking the deadlock on a reverse layup. Mason continued to lead until a Ryan McCoy 3-pointer tied the score at 22 with 1:50 left in the half. Manhattan briefly took a one-point lead on Alvarado’s free throw, but the Patriots finished the period with five of the final seven points to take a 27-25 lead into the halftime locker room.

Mason jumped out of the opening whistle with six straight points to take their largest lead of the game to that point, 33-25, and forcing a Jaspers timeout 90 seconds into the action. The Patriots would match that margin twice more, before Mason pushed it to double-digits for the first time after a Morrison dunk and a pair of Vaughns 3-pointers made it 57-42 with 8:26 left. The Jaspers got no closer than nine from then on, as the Patriots maintained a comfortable distance.

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