by Bobby Bancroft

George Mason returned home on Monday night and picked up a much needed 74 – 58 win over Brown in the consolation round of the NIT Season Tip-Off.

After losing two of their last three games away from the Patriot Center, Paul Hewitt opted to make a change in his starting line-up by inserting freshman point guard Corey Edwards for sophomore guard Bryon Allen.  It was the third different starting line-up that Hewitt has used in five games.

On a team looking for a way to cut down their turnovers, the results were positive.  Edwards provided four assists to just one turnover while Allen contributed three assists against one turnover.  For just the second time all year, the Patriots had more assists (14) than turnovers (11).

After the game Hewitt talked about why he made the change in the backcourt.

“Corey came off the bench and played really well for us in Florida (against FAU),” Hewitt explained.

“He does a good job of pressuring the basketball.  He does a good job of just getting us settled into our stuff.  That doesn’t mean that we have given up on Bryon.  Bryon is going to have to be a key contributor for us.”

Once again the Patriots (3-2) were led by senior forward Ryan Pearson who had a game high 23 points on 9 of 14 shooting to go along with six rebounds and three steals in just 24 minutes.

Brown (2-3) took their only lead of the game after a Stephen Albrecht three-pointer made it 12 – 10 with 12 minutes remaining in the first half.  George Mason responded with a 27 – 9 run to end the first half and take a 37 – 21 lead into the halftime break.

The key to the run was the Patriots pressure defense and size which rattled the Bears.

“We knew coming in that they were a three point shooting team,” Pearson said after the victory.

“We picked up our defense real early.  We started picking up full court.  We got into them.  Just make them a little bit uncomfortable and it worked out in our favor.”

Brown struggled from the outside shooting just 3 of 15 from three-point range in the first half and 5 of 25 for the game.

Josh Harris led the Bears with nine points off the bench.  Brown will face Monmouth (0-4) on Tuesday at 5pm at the Patriot Center.  George Mason will take on Albany (2-2) to conclude the tournament.

Patriots Notes:  George Mason has now won 16 straight home games at the Patriot Center.  Guard Andre Cornelius is halfway through a ten game suspension.  Hewitt indicated that injuried junior forward Paris Bennett is still about a week away from seeing game action.


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