Reporting Bobby Bancroft
FAIRFAX, Va. – Sometimes themes do come true.
That was the message learned by a sell-out crowd of 9,840 at George Mason’s Patriot Center on Saturday afternoon during the main event of Homecoming Weekend 2012.
This year’s slogan was ‘This Is Where The Magic Happens’ and, even though it took over 36 minutes to materialize, it would prove to be prophetic.
Of course another appropriate slogan would have been ‘The Banks Never Close’ as reserve freshman guard Corey Edwards played the role of late-game magician by hitting a vital three-pointer that kissed off the backboard in George Mason’s 54-50 win over Old Dominion to remain in a first-place tie in the Colonial Athletic Association standings with Drexel and Virginia Commonwealth.
Not only was it the lone made basket of the afternoon for Edwards (five points, six turnovers) but it was also the only successful three-pointer for George Mason in ten attempts.
The honest post game admittance from Edwards that his shot was completely unintentional fit right in on an afternoon when the Patriots (19-6, 11-2) shot a season-low 27.7 percent and hit a season-low 13 field goals.
“I knew that was going to be the first question,” Edwards joked in the post game press conference.
“When I shot [the ball] it felt kind of funny so I’m like either it’s going to be off the backboard or it’s going to be an air ball so thank God it went in.”
George Mason earned a season sweep over Old Dominion (15-8, 10-3) for the first time in ten years and extended its CAA home winning streak to 16 games in the process.
Ryan Pearson led the Patriots with 17 points and ten rebounds for his tenth double-double of the season but even the senior forward couldn’t get anything accomplished offensively in the first half. Pearson scored just two points as the Patriots had twice as many turnovers (12) as made field goals (six) and trailed the Monarchs 26-20 after twenty minutes.
“We didn’t play our best basketball in the first half but we tried to come out and establish ourselves in the first five minutes in the second half,” Pearson said about the rough start.
Kent Bazemore (eleven points) gave the Monarchs their biggest lead of the game at 28-20 on a layup just ten seconds after halftime but it would be the last field goal until 10:27 remaining when Trian Iliadis (team-high 13 points) broke the drought with a layup of his own.
It was a lead the Patriots would never relinquish thanks to Pearson and fellow senior Mike Morrison’s combined efforts of 17-of-20 from the free throw line.
For the game George Mason held a 27-10 advantage in made field throws over ODU. It was a stat not lost on Monarchs Coach Blaine Taylor.
“It doesn’t take Homeland Security to figure out that when you lose by four and you’re down 17 at the free throw line, that’s where the edge came from,” Coach Taylor said about the difference in the game while not actually complaining about the calls themselves.
After picking up a technical foul in a loss to Delaware last week, Pearson again showed emotion after a hard foul and was immediately substituted out by Coach Paul Hewitt.
“Yeah he’s got to knock it out,” Coach Hewitt said about his fiery leader,” and that’s why I took him out”.
“We are 11-2 in conference now and as you get into the last five games in conference, things just get intense,” Pearson explained after the game.
“Games aren’t called the same and the referees let you play more and the games are just more physical.”
George Mason had by far its worse assist-to-turnover ratio of the season at 7-to-21.
Up Next: George Mason hosts Hofstra on Wednesday at 7pm. The Patriots won the first meeting of the season 55-50 on January 25th. The Pride (8-17, 2-11) are lead by senior Mike Moore (19.4 ppg).
Patriots Notes: With his 17 points Ryan Pearson became the 12th Patriot in school history to score over 1,500 points in his career. Pearson currently sits in eleventh place with 1,509 total points.