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Ryan Pearson’s Career Night Lifts George Mason

by Bobby Bancroft
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Playing in front of a sellout crowd on the road against a team carrying a 15-game home court winning streak, George Mason found out that sometimes practice does make perfect.

Ryan Pearson scored a career-high 35 points on 15-of-25 shooting to go along with 15 rebounds in the senior’s fifth double-double of the season as George Mason defeated the College of Charleston 84-76 on Friday night in their last non-conference road game of the season.

“I think tonight we probably played our best game of the year against a very, very good basketball team,” George Mason Coach Paul Hewitt said.   “We are very fortunate to come in here and beat the College of Charleston.  They are a very good team and hopefully this type of win can reinforce what we have been doing in practice and give us some confidence that we can move on to the next game.”

In what was set up as a return game from a 2010 ESPN Bracket Buster, turned out to be a matchup of two of the best mid-major teams in the country who just happened to be led by the last two coaches at Georgia Tech.

Hewitt got the best of his Yellow Jackets predecessor Bobby Cremins who is in his fifth season in charge of the Cougars (10-3).  Cremins was at Georgia Tech from 1981 thru 2000 until Hewitt took over through the end of last season.

After falling behind 8-0 in the early moments of the game, it was George Mason (9-4) who would have the eight point advantage at the break as they led the Cougars 46-38.

The Patriots made the most of their opportunities in the first half by scoring 21 points off College of Charleston turnovers.  For the game George Mason turned 13 Cougar turnovers into an efficient 25 points.

An Anthony Stitt three-pointer with 3:09 remaining brought the home team to within two points at 74-72 but, like he did all game, Pearson would come to George Mason’s rescue as he drove to the basket for layup and the Patriots never looked back.

Pearson was very modest after what Hewitt called a “monster” performance from the senior forward.

“We practiced really hard leading up to this game,” Pearson said.  “We knew, win or lose, we were going to go out there, give it all we had and play hard.  The game that I had tonight, my teammates gave me the ball in the right places and they believed in me down the stretch to close out the game for the team.”

Guards Vertrail Vaughns (12 points) and Bryon Allen (11 points) joined Pearson in double figures.

Antwaine Wiggins led five Cougars in double figures with 19 points in the losing effort.

Up Next:  George Mason takes on William and Mary (2-11, 0-1) at noon on January 2nd in their first CAA home game of the season.  The Tribe are led by senior guard Quinn McDowell with 11.2 points per game.

Patriots Notes:  George Mason played the role of spoiler after having their 18-game home court winning streak snapped by Duquesne a little over a week ago.  College of Charleston’s streak was snapped at 15 games and it had been good enough for the 11th longest in the country.

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