Delaware hands Mason 79-72 home loss

Patrick Holloway attempts a three-point shot against Delaware (Photo by John Irwin). 

Despite four of its players scoring in double figures, the George Mason University men's basketball team was unable to hold off the University of Delaware, falling 79-72 Saturday afternoon at the Patriot Center. 

Junior guard Devon Saddler had a game-high 22 points and eight rebounds for the Blue Hens, increasing his streak of consecutive games scoring in double figures to 30. 

Though Mason was never out of the game, the Blue Hens led the entire contest and managed to hold off the Patriots' late run to retain the road win.

Foul trouble has been a concern for Mason all season and have found ways to cancel it out with their team depth. But with junior forward Johnny Williams missing his fourth straight game with concussion-like symptoms, Coach Paul Hewitt was restricted with his bench, playing Marko Gujanicic and Paris Bennett in extended minutes. 

"They got off to a fast start and it just seems like every time we tried to string together some stops, we would put them on the foul line," said Hewitt.  

The Blue Hens went to the free throw line 30 times, connecting on 83.3 percent of their attempts. Down the stretch, Mason made a final push and were able to cut the deficit to five points with 1:40 to play on Gujanicic's three-pointer. However, Delaware was perfect from the line in the final minutes of the game, shooting 8-of-8 with under a minute in regulation, warding off the Patriots' last chance advances.  

"We just kept putting them on the foul line," said junior forward Jonathan Arledge. "We were beating them on the glass and in the paint. Putting them on the line is what hurt us." 

Arledge's streak of games in which he tops his previous career-high in scoring came to an end. However, he recorded his first double-double (15 points and 11 rebounds) since facing Virginia Commonwealth in the CAA tournament semifinals last March. 

Arledge and sophomore forward Erik Copes (13 points and 10 rebounds) controlled the paint, helping Mason to outrebound and outscore the Blue Hens in the post and to hold Jamelle Hagins to six points (12.5 points per game). No matter, the Blue Hen guards, especially the tandem of Saddler and Jarvis Threatt (20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists) torched the Patriots for a combined 42 points. 

Mason returns to action on Thursday Feb. 14 as the Patriots travel to Philadelphia to face the Drexel Dragons at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sportsnet.

Mason Provost Peter Stearns couldn't have said it better: 

Positive Takeaways: Patriots' guard Bryon Allen recorded eight assists and zero turnovers in 35 minutes of play ... Erik Copes had a career-high 13 points with 10 rebounds and was efficient from the field (6-of-7). 

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