FAIRFAX, V.A. – A funny thing happened to George Mason on the way to what looked like a blowout win against a school with the nation’s longest losing streak.
No, it had nothing to do with actor Bill Murray who was in attendance with a nice courtside seat usually reserved for George Mason administrators.
It was the fact that after leading by 18 just four minutes in the second half, George Mason needed a late three-pointer from reserve guard Sherrod Wright before ultimately holding off Towson 72-60 on Saturday night at the Patriot Center.
The win moved the Patriots into sole possession of first-place in the Colonial Athletic Association standings.
“It’s great to get a win, we’re not going to kid ourselves we got the win,” Coach Paul Hewitt said after surviving a late scare.
“This can happen, it happens to teams all over the country, good bad or whatever.”
George Mason (15-5, 7-1) outscored Towson 43-1 in points off the bench in one of the most lopsided stat lines that you will ever come across in a box score.
Wright scored a game-high 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting including a perfect 2-of-2 from deep and 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
Wright’s three-pointer with 1:35 remaining extended the Patriots lead to eight and virtually ended any chance of an upset.
“Sherrod Wright was terrific,” Coach Hewitt said about.
“That’s what happens when you have a good team somebody steps up.”
Towson Coach Pat Skerry, who has Murray’s son Luke on his bench as an assistant coach, took over the program with a 19-game losing streak and under his watch has now seen that extended into a Division 1 record 39 consecutive losses.
Towson (0-20, 0-8) clawed back into the game to close the gap to just 63-58 with 2:17 remaining behind Marcus Dumas (19 points) and Robert Nwankwo (14 points) but they just couldn’t get over that hump, partly do their lack of depth down the stretch.
“We don’t have enough guys, we’re only really playing six guys and because of that our margin of error is really thin,” Skerry admitted after seeing his team produce just one point off the bench.
“At this point we really have to guard and rebound for 40 minutes.”
Rebounding wasn’t a problem as the Tigers out rebounded the Patriots 45 to 34. Towson had as many offensive rebounds (23) as George Mason had on the defensive end.
While Coach Hewitt recognizes the need for his team to hit the glass harder, he is pleased with his team’s ability to defend. Towson shot just 37.1 percent against the Patriots.
“We force people into a lot of missed shots,” Coach Hewitt said about the amount of offensive rebounds available for the opposition.
“When you have that many missed shots, you have that many more opportunities. We are going to keep forcing misses so we’ll have more opportunities to practice rebounding.”
In his fourth game since going from the starting lineup to the bench, Wright outscored all three starting guards 22 to 11.
“I thought I was hitting shots so I just kept on being aggressive,” Wright said about his good shooting night.
“My teammates got me the ball in places I need to be at and I just took advantage.”
Up Next: George Mason hosts UNC-Wilmington (8-10, 4-4) at 9pm on Monday night at the Patriot Center.
Patriots Notes: Freshman Erik Copes sat out his third consecutive game after posting seven blocks in the first half of a loss to Drexel on January 12. His return is unknown.