FAIRFAX, Va. – Somewhere along the way, George Mason picked up the reputation as being one of the softer teams in the Colonial Athletic Association. It’s hard to tell how these claims begin, but it’s easy to see how they end.
After George Mason’s 89-63 throttling of Delaware at the Patriot Center on Wednesday night, it might be time for the remaining teams on the Patriots schedule to come up with a different strategy.
Perhaps no sequence demonstrated George Mason’s toughness better than in closing moments of the first half when Mike Morrison was involved in not one, but two altercations with Delaware forward Hakim McCullar.
Instead of losing his cool, Morrison drew a charge as McCullar slammed into him and leveled the 6-foot-9 forward to the floor. The extra Patriots possession ultimately led to a Bryon Allen three-pointer at the buzzer that gave George Mason a 46-31 bulge as they headed into the break.
Of course halftime didn’t actually start until the officials went to the monitor to see what had occurred between the aforementioned two players on that last shot.
After some deliberation, both Morrison and McCullar were given technical fouls for their extracurricular activity and the 15 minute halftime rundown could officially start.
But not before George Mason got a chance to show that they wouldn’t be bullied.
“They said the scouting report on us is that we’re soft and that you can push us around, you can punch us in the face,” Morrison said afterwards when asked about the physicality of the game.
“So a lot of teams try and do that. I know this guy next to me [Ryan Pearson] isn’t going to let anybody do that and I’m not either. We play hard, we play physical down there…sometimes technicals happen. It’s always a battle down low so it’s nothing that we’re not used to.”
Besides toughness, George Mason (14-5, 6-1) kept pace with Old Dominion atop the CAA standings thanks to ball security (eight turnovers) and hot-shooting (31-of-57 for 54.4 percent).
Pearson led the Patriots with 24 points, ten rebounds, four steals, and two blocks as George Mason scored 89 points in back-to-back wins. Morrison came through with 17 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks while Allen rounded out the double-digit scorers with his 12 points and four assists.
The Patriots came out strong in building an early 16-4 lead the forced Delaware into using two timeouts before the first media break.
The opening burst was no fluke as it’s something that Pearson and the rest of his teammates want to do to establish a faster pace.
“We want to be a running team, we want to be a high scoring team,” Pearson admitted after the game.
“The way to get more possessions in the game is trying to get easy baskets. We came out strong on defense, we came out fired up and we got uncontested baskets.”
Delaware (7-10, 3-4) was led by Doc Saddler (21 points) and Josh Brinkley (14 points) who combined to score the first 20 points of the game for the Blue Hens.
After picking up his sixth conference win in seven tries, George Mason Coach Paul Hewitt was extremely pleased, particularlly with his team’s ability to protect the ball. Even if he doesn’t know how it happened.
“If you know, tell me please,” Hewitt joked.
“It’s the same plays, we just made them cleaner, we were more efficient tonight.”
Up Next: George Mason plays host to Towson (0-19, 0-7) on Saturday at 4pm. The Tigers have now lost an NCAA Division 1 record 38-games. The Patriots defeated Towson 65-53 on December 3rd.
Patriots Notes: Freshman center Erik Copes sat out his second straight game after recording seven blocks in a 60-53 loss at Drexel. His availability against Towson is unknown.