In their last game before the return of suspended senior guard Andre Cornelius, George Mason used a dominant second half performance to knock off Radford 76-61 in front of 1,811 at the Dedmon Center on Saturday afternoon.
In what has become the norm under first year Coach Paul Hewitt, the Patriots (7-3, 1-0) were once again led by their frontcourt. Mike Morrison posted his first double-double of the season after putting up 17 points and 11 rebounds while Ryan Pearson tallied 14 points and seven rebounds.
Radford (3-8) kept the game close after R.J Price scored six straight points during an 8-0 run to end the half and pulled the Highlanders to within 32-29. Price finished with a team-high 15 points but struggled from the field going just 3-for-10.
Vaughn Gray (six points) drilled a three-pointer to cap a 28-11 Patriots run that pushed the score to 60-40 and put the game out of reach midway through the second half. George Mason edged Radford on the glass to the tune of 39-29 for the game. Morrison and Pearson combined for 18 of those rebounds.
“We were just going after it,” Pearson said about the Patriots rebounding advantage. “Coach [Hewitt] emphasized defensive rebounding a lot and just attacking the glass – getting your guy up out of the way and going and getting the ball.”
Hewitt once again went with a three guard lineup – Bryon Allen, Vertrail Vaughns, and Sherrod Wright – used ten players, and gave nine players at least ten minutes. The return of Cornelius is going to change a few, if not all, of those things. For the time being Hewitt, is only interested in the positives that have come from the suspension to one of his most pivotal players instead of worrying about whose minutes are going to take a backseat.
“One of the benefits of having, maybe the only benefit of having DJ [Cornelius] out, is that those guys got a lot of experience before we head into CAA play – Corey [Edwards] in particular,” Hewitt said. “I thought Bryon [Allen] was pretty well established coming in, and he’s improved, he’s steadily improved, but Corey got a lot of experience that he might not have gotten had DJ been around.”
Up Next: George Mason will return to action after an eleven day lay-off to take on Duquesne on Wednesday December 21st at 7pm. It will be the Patriots first home game since November 30th.
Patriots Notes: Over the last five games starting guard Vertrail Vaughns is shooting just 3-of-21 (14 percent) from three-point range after starting the season 12-of-23 (52 percent) in the first five games.