George Mason’s 67-64 win over the University of Richmond was intriguing for a plethora of reasons. Sherrod Wright hit yet another three-pointer at the buzzer against a Richmond-based university to complete a triumphant rally for the Patriots.
As Coach Hewitt was reminded in the post game conference, his last trip to the Richmond Coliseum “didn’t go so well.” Mason’s 74-64 loss to VCU in the semi-finals of March’s CAA Tournament is now infamous, a consequence of an embarrassing first half in which the Patriots trailed 32-4. On Saturday in the Governor’s Hoops Holiday Classic, the Patriots fell behind early to the talented Richmond Spiders. The Patriots trailed 41-32 at the half, with 26 of the Spiders’ points coming from the Darien Brothers-Derrick Williams duo.
The Patriots emerged from the locker room with the two-fold goal of controlling the Spiders’ top two scorers while taking care of the ball. The plan proved to be effective, as the two Spiders combined for just eight second half points. The Patriots still had to comeback from a double-digit deficit with less than ten minutes remaining, but they forced the Spiders to find other sources of offense in the second half.
The Patriots have struggled all season with the “taking care of the ball” strategy. One of the most compelling aspects of Saturday’s victory was the emergence of Corey Edwards. In his third consecutive start, Edwards netted a career-high 13 points, with three steals and three assists (and just one turnover).
The sophomore guard had an up-and-down freshman year in which he “started off strong, suffered a concussion, and was never quite the same.” Hewitt credited Edwards for stabilizing the Patriots’ offense. The Patriots allowed only three points off turnovers in the second half.
Wright’s game winner reminded the Patriots of better days. The junior seems to be developing a knack for hitting the big shots, evidenced by his game-winning three in Mason’s 62-61 home win over VCU in February. The 7-4 Patriots will look to build off Saturday’s win, as they’ll look to create momentum before returning to the Coliseum in two-and-a-half months.
Tomorrow we’ll touch on ODU’s upset of UVA as part of the CAA’s successful weekend.