by Bobby Bancroft

George Mason freshman forward Erik Copes hit a game tying layup with two seconds remaining to cap a furious Patriots comeback in regulation but it wasn’t enough as Florida Atlantic dominated overtime in an 80 – 75 win for the home Owls.

After trailing 57 – 45 at the under six minute media timeout, George Mason (2-2) went on a 21 – 9 run to close the second half.  During that stretch the Patriots were lead by a balanced attack with freshman guard Corey Edwards, senior forward Ryan Pearson, sophomore guard Vertrail Vaughns, and senior forward Mike Morrison each scoring at least four points.

Florida Atlantic (2-3) was led by junior guard Raymond Taylor with 15 points.  It was the first home game of the season for coach Mike Jarvis and the Owls who last season won the regular season championship in the Sun Belt Conference.

George Mason had more turnovers (16) than assists (11) for the third straight game.  The Patriots are 1-2 in that stretch.

In what is becoming a regular occurrence, George Mason played their third overtime game in four games to start the season.  The Patriots went down immediately in the extra period after Owls junior forward Kore White hit two quick shots to push Florida Atlantic in front 70 – 66.  George Mason would never take the lead in overtime although a three-pointer by Edwards would bring them within a point at 72 – 71.  A late Taylor three-pointer put the game out of reach for the Owls at 77 – 72.

Already missing suspended senior guard Andre Cornelius, Paul Hewitt was forced to make a line-up change with the wrist injury to sophomore guard Sherrod Wright.  Sophomore forward Jonathan Alredge got his first start of the season in Wright’s absence.  Wright had been averaging 14 points on 64 percent shooting from the field.

Vaughns led the Patriots with a career high 21 points.  Pearson added 19 points and seven rebounds.  It was the first time on the season that Pearson failed to register a double-double.

Patriots Notes:  As a result of not advancing to the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals, George Mason will host a doubleheader on both Monday Nov 21 and Tuesday Nov 22 at the Patriot Center.  The Patriots will face Brown on Monday at 730pm and Albany on Tuesday at 730pm.  Monmouth, who George Mason defeated 71 – 39 on Nov 15 in Blacksburg, will play in the 5pm game each day against the opposite opponent.


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