The George Mason Patriots rebounded from an ugly first half performance to score a critical conference win, defeating the Old Dominion Monarchs 54-50 Saturday night in front of a raucous Patriot Center crowd. With the victory, the Patriots own sole possession of first place in the CAA, if only for a few hours, with an 11-2 conference mark.
George Mason big man Ryan Pearson rebounded from a brutal first half in which he had only two points to finish the game with 17 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals. Fellow forward Mark Morrison chipped in eight points and eight boards for the Patriots.
Old Dominion lost despite outshooting George Mason from the field 32.8 percent to 27.7 percent. The Monarchs were outscored by 10 points in the second half, and finished the game with 17 turnovers to just seven assists.
George Mason improved to 12-1 at home this season, including an unblemished 7-0 record at the Patriot Center in CAA play.
The battle for CAA conference supremacy between the George Mason Patriots and Old Dominion Monarchs has been a sloppy affair in the first half, with the Monarchs currently edging the Patriots 26-20 at halftime.
Both teams have struggled to score, in particular the Patriots. George Mason is shooting just 20.0 percent from the floor (six of 30 from the field). Paul Hewitt’s club has also turned the ball over 12 times. Ryan Pearson, the third leading scorer in the CAA, has just two points at the half and has yet to make a field goal.
Old Dominion has fared slightly better, shooting 40 percent in the first half. Kent Bazemore has led the way, scoring seven points, dishing out four assists and grabbing two rebounds.
The Monarchs have lost six of their last seven games at the Patriot Center, but are 5-1 on the road this year in CAA play.
First place in the super-competitive Colonial Athletic Association is on the line when two traditional powers square off in Fairfax, Va. Old Dominion was supposed to have a down year after heavy graduation losses, but they've ripped through the CAA with a 10-2 record. George Mason, meanwhile, has overcome suspensions, transfers and a late coaching change to move to 10-2 in the conference as well coming into Saturday's showdown.
The Patriots currently hold the tiebreaker after topping the Monarchs, 63-54, on January 5. Had the Patriots taken care of business this week, this game wouldn't be for first place in the conference. Instead, the Patriots suffered a disappointing mid-week loss to Delaware, setting up the showdown.
The George Mason Patriots (18-6, 10-2 CAA) welcome conference foe and hated rival Old Dominion (15-9, 10-2) to the Patriot Center Saturday, with a sellout crowd of roughly 10,000 folks expected to attend.