Drexel rallies back after trailing by 20 points to steal win from Patriots, 58-54
A 20-point first half lead wasn’t enough of a cushion for the George Mason University men’s basketball team as the Drexel University Dragons crawled—and at times sprinted—back to steal a conference road game from the Patriots, 58-54 Thursday night.
The Dragons’ sophomore scoring sensation Damion Lee torched the Patriots for 20 of his game-high 29 points in the second half—outscoring the entire team, who finished with a combined 16 points in the half.
In the truest sense of the phrase, the game was a tale of two halves for both teams.
The Patriots opened the contest with a balanced attack of efficient offense and pressure defense to take a 12-1 advantage in the first seven minutes. Drexel struggled to find the bottom of the basket, scoring their first field goal with 12:53 left in the half.
A mixture of full court pressure, strong closeouts on perimeter shooters and man-to-man defense from Mason forced the Dragons into eight first half turnovers on account of five steals.
“We panicked in the first half a little bit, but I thought we got some easy buckets late in the first half which in a way backed them off a little bit,” said Drexel Coach Bruiser Flint.
The Dragons made a run at the end of the first stanza, cutting the Mason lead to 13 at the break on a Lee last second three pointer. After the intermission, Drexel fed off the momentum that they had garnered entering halftime, coming all the way back to take the lead with 7:17 left in regulation. Bryon Allen reacts to Thursday night's loss (Photo by John Irwin).
Mason shot 28 percent from the field in the second half and went 0-4 from behind the arc, after shooting 57 percent in the first half. Rebounding, which has been a weakness for the Patriots all season stalled heavily in the second half as the Dragons won the battle on the boards by an astonishing 11 rebound margin. “We stopped scoring,” said Mason Coach Paul Hewitt. “We couldn’t get into our pressure. I thought our press rattled them a little bit.”
“We’ve got to rebound the ball,” said Hewitt. “But, I just felt that every key possession down the stretch they were getting three shots.”
Junior guard Sherrod Wright led the Patriots in scoring with 15 points, but only added two points in the second half. Junior forward Jonathan Arledge had a career-high 14 points as he replaced redshirt junior Johnny Williams, who sat with a concussion.
Sophomore guard Corey Edwards scored eight points and added two three-pointers in the first half, but only played four minutes in the second half.
The Patriots, who have dropped their past two games, travel to Harrisonburg Saturday for a meeting with in-state rival James Madison at 4 p.m. JMU is riding a four-game winning streak in the CAA and are 8-2 at home this season.
Photo by John Irwin