Reporting Bobby Bancroft
Conventional wisdom says that at some point George Mason’s recent propensity to start slow and then play sloppy throughout will eventually catch up with the Patriots in the form of a loss.
Well Wednesday night was not ‘some point’ as George Mason seemingly dodged another bullet in defeating Hofstra 55-50 at the Mack Sports Complex in Hempstead, NY.
Sherrod Wright led George Mason (17-5, 9-1) with 15 points and four rebounds off the bench as the Patriots won their fifth straight game to remain in first place in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Wright saved his best for last as the sophomore hit a layup while being fouled and then converted the resulting free throw for an old fashioned three-point play that put the Patriots up for good at 51-50 with 1:46 remaining. It was the seventh and final lead change of the second half as Hofstra went on to miss its final five shots to end the game.
George Mason’s bench outscored the starters (36-19) for the second time in three games with Wright leading the way on both occasions.
Hofstra (7-15, 1-9) raced out to an early 9-0 lead by holding the CAA’s highest scoring team in George Mason scoreless for the first 5 minutes 15 seconds of the game.
Mike Moore (game-high 18 points) and Nathaniel Lester (15 points) each hit two fields for the Pride during that opening stretch.
The first half didn’t get much better as George Mason went on to set season lows in field goals (four) and shooting percentage (17.4).
The good news was that the Patriots managed to trail by just one at 20-19 thanks to some hot shooting from the free throw line (11-of-14) which was led by Jonathan Arledge’s six-for-six performance.
For as cold as the Patriots were in the first half, they were just as hot to open things up in the second half with three consecutive three-pointers, the first two by Andre Cornelius and the third from Ryan Pearson, to open up a 28-22 advantage.
Hofstra fought back to tie things up at 38 with eight minutes remaining as the Patriots had trouble holding on to the ball. For the game George Mason had 18 turnovers to just eight assets.
The final stretch was a back-and-forth affair before Wright’s heroics sealed the deal for the visitors.
While George Mason’s frontline of Pearson (seven points) and Mike Morrison (three points) combined to hit just 3-of-11 of their shots, they made up for it with their presence on the boards by grabbing 18 of the Patriots 39 rebounds.
Hofstra totaled just 21 rebounds as a team in losing for the eighth time in nine games.
Up Next: George Mason hosts James Madison (9-11, 2-7) on Saturday at 2pm in a game that can be seen live on Comcast SportsNet. The Patriots beat JMU 89-83 earlier this month in Harrisonburg.
Patriots Notes: Corey Edwards tied a career-high with nine points off the bench in 24 minutes. It was the most playing time for the freshman since November 22 against Albany.