Patriots Break Away Late From Seahawks
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
WILMINGTON, North Carolina - Colonial Athletic Association co-leader George Mason used a 13-2 run with five minutes remaining in the game to break away from pesky UNCW and earn a 78-63 decision over the Seahawks in a men's basketball game on Tuesday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Patriots won their 10th consecutive game to improve to 20-5 overall and 12-2 in the conference. The Seahawks now stand 11-14 and 5-9.
"We're disappointed we didn't get the win, but George Mason is a very good basketball team," said Buzz Peterson, UNCW's first-year coach. "They have so many weapons and so many different ways to score. They never got rattled and they're a tough team to beat right now."
Junior guard Aaron Cornelius led all scorers with 25 points on 9-for-14 shooting for GMU, including key buckets at several points in the contest. The Charlotte product drained 7-of-10 behind the arc and fell just three points shy of matching his career high set against Fairfield last March.
Senior guard Cam Long chipped in 17 points and senior Ryan Pearson added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Patriots, who completed a sweep of the regular season series with the Seahawks.
Senior guard Chad Tomko broke the 20-point plateau for the sixth time this season with 20 points for the Seahawks. Junior guard Trevor Deloach, who shared CAA Player-of-the-Week honors with Pearson, racked up his third career double double with 16 points and 10 boards. Sophomore forward Keith Rendleman also had 11 points.
GMU led by as many as eight points in the first half before the Seahawks rallied to narrow the deficit to 31-30 at intermission. The Patriots then outscored the Seahawks, 22-9, over the first seven minutes of the second half and wound up shooting 63 percent after the break to keep their winning streak intact.
After a pair of layups by Pearson staked GMU to a 53-40 cushion with 12:54 left in the contest, the Seahawks strung together six straight points to get within striking distance. Rendleman connected on the left baseline and Deloach contributed a floater and two free throws to close the gap to 53-46 with 8:36 on the clock.
But Cornelius, a slippery 5-10 shooter, sank his sixth triple of the game and Long added another trifecta at 6:50 to keep GMU's margin at 59-48.
UNCW made one last run when Tomko swished a jumper from the left wing to chop the deficit to 62-55 at 5:12, but the Patriots reeled off 10 unanswered points and Long's layup with 3:34 remaining gave GMU its largest lead of the game, 72-55.
In the first half, Rendleman hit the second of two free throws to close an early deficit to 17-14 with just over seven minutes left before Luke Hancock made a nifty layup on the left side and Pearson drained a triple from the left wing to extend the margin to 22-14 with 6:13 remaining.
The Seahawks still trailed, 27-22, when UNCW reeled off six straight points for its first lead of the contest. Ahmad Grant converted a layup, Deloach sank a trey and Matt Wilson made the first of two free throws to give UNCW a 28-27 advantage with 2:22 left in the opening period.
But Cornelius responded with a trifecta and reserve guard Rashad Whack added a free throw to help GMU regain the lead, 31-30, at the break.
The Seahawks hit the road on Saturday for a 2 p.m. matchup against Towson at the Towson Center. The game will be televised locally on WWAY-TV 3. GMU, meanwhile, entertains James Madison at 5 p.m.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks attempted double the number of free throws of GMU in the first half, 12-6...GMU now leads the series, 38-30...The Patriots won their third straight in Wilmington...UNCW still owns a 19-10 edge over GMU in Trask Coliseum...Buzz Peterson remains winless in three tries against GMU's Jim Larranaga...The Seahawks are 4-6 against Virginia opponents this season...The two teams battled to a 31-all draw on the glass...GMU went 10-for-21 behind the arc...The Patriots scored 34 points in the paint...UNCW had 19 second-chance points...Three GMU players finished with four fouls...The Seahawks play three of their final five games at Trask Coliseum, which they stand 8-4 this season.