WILMINGTON, North Carolina - Sophomore guard Sherrod Wright notched a team-high 16 points off the bench and George Mason used a 12-0 second half run to outpace upset-minded UNCW, 75-69, in Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball action Saturday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Patriots remained in a tie for first place in the conference with their ninth straight win against the Seahawks, standing 21-6 overall and 13-2 in the CAA. UNCW fell to 9-16 on the year and 5-10 in league play.
Senior forward Ryan Pearson led three other GMU players in double figures with 15 points to go with a team-high seven rebounds. Sophomore guards Bryon Allen and Vertrail Vaughns added 10 points each.
Freshman guard Adam Smith led UNCW with a game-high 20 points, passing Steve Langston for No. 3 in the Seahawks' all-time single-season scoring list for freshmen. Junior forward Keith Rendleman and senior guard Trevor Deloach both added 14 points, while sophomore guard Tanner Milson collected 11 markers. Freshman forward Cedrick Williams tallied a game-high eight boards.
GMU was clinging to a narrow 44-43 advantage with 15:47 to play when Patriots rattled off 12 unanswered points to take a 56-43 lead, capped by a fast-break layup from freshman forward Vaughn Gray with 11:47 left.
The Seahawks missed all six of their shots during the Patriot spurt, going scoreless for 5:28 before Williams finally ended the drought at the 11:32 mark with a deep jumper to make the score, 56-45.
UNCW charged back in the final minutes with an 11-2 run, cutting the advantage to as few as four, 70-66, with 33 seconds remaining. But the Seahawks missed three shots with under 30 seconds left to fall short in the upset bid.
The Patriots started the contest hitting 5-of-7 from the floor, building an early eight point advantage, 14-8, off a fast-break layup from Allen at the 14:35 mark.
GMU built the lead to as many as 10 points, 20-10, before UNCW chipped away at the deficit. A pull-up jumper by Smith with 7:07 left in the half capped a 6-0 spurt and trimmed the GMU advantage to three, 24-21.
Wright then ended the 2:03 Patriot drought with a driving reverse lay-in at the 6:50 mark, sparking a 7-2 run to push the lead back to eight, 31-23.
But Deloach scored five of UNCW's next seven points, keeping the Seahawks close before a basket by Williams with 23 seconds left closed the gap to the halftime score, 37-32. Deloach's buckets were part of a 12-point, 5-of-8 shooting performance in the first frame.
UNCW came out sizzling in the second period, starting the frame 4-of-4 from the floor and cutting the lead to one point, 44-43, when Smith raced in for a fast-break bucket at the 17-minute mark. But GMU responded by rattling off the 12-0 run that put the game just out of reach.
UNCW plays three of its final four regular season games on the road, beginning with a 7 p.m. Valentine's Day tilt at Old Dominion. Also on Tuesday, GMU returns to its home court to take on one of its main threats for the CAA regular season title in VCU at 9 p.m.
GAME NOTES: UNCW sophomore guard Tanner Milson matched his career high with six assists ... GMU now leads the all-time series, 40-30 ... Patriot senior forward Ryan Pearson scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half ... GMU outscored UNCW, 36-22, in the paint, including 22-8 in the second period ... The Seahawks' dynamic duo of freshman guard Adam Smith and junior forward Keith Rendleman combined for 28 of UNCW's 61 shots ... There were four goaltending calls in the contest...The Seahawks had four in double figures for the fifth time this season...Trevor Deloach reached double digits in scoring for the third time this season...Adam Smith reached the 20-point plateau for the sixth time...GMU was only the second team to shoot better than 50 percent from the field against the Seahawks this season...Adam Smith scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half.