Men's hoops takes down Hofstra to stay first in the CAA

Ryan Pearson led the way for the Patriots again in the scoring column Wednesday night with 16 points in Mason's win over Hofstra, 72-62 (John Powell).
Ryan Pearson led the way for the Patriots again in the scoring column Wednesday night with 16 points in Mason's win over Hofstra, 72-62 (John Powell).

In yet another closely contested game, the Patriots (20-6, 12-2) survived by a final count of 72-62 over conference foe Hofstra (8-18, 2-12) Wednesday night in the Patriot Center to remain tied for first place in the CAA standings with VCU and Drexel.

After a sluggish performance for nearly 35 minutes, George Mason played the final stretch like a newly inspired group on both ends of the floor.

“I thought at the end of the game we executed very, very well,” head coach Paul Hewitt said.

The Patriots were once again led in scoring by senior forward Ryan Pearson with 16 points, continuing his strong campaign for the conference Player of the Year. However, he had just two rebounds on the night, despite averaging nearly nine boards per game.

Pearson may have led the team in the scoring department, but it was the Sherrod Wright show late in Fairfax that ultimately sealed the Mason victory. With just over five minutes to go in the game and his team trailing by two points, Wright hit a big-time three-pointer to give the Patriots the 57-56 lead. Just seconds later he cashed in on a layup stretching the lead to three points.

“I was just being aggressive like I was throughout the whole game […] it was just, ‘I’m going to take the shots that they give me,’” Wright said.

Wright finished the game with 12 points, 10 of which came in the second half, to go along with a team-high seven rebounds.  With Pearson and senior Mike Morrison combining for just four rebounds, Wright did a solid job crashing the boards from the outside.

“I felt like we were more focused in the second half, Coach gave us a big time speech that we gotta’ be more physical,” Wright said.

Morrison rounded out the double-figure scorers for the Patriots with 10 points, but had just two rebounds.

The difference for the Patriots again came down to points in the paint. The Patriots won that category 36-20, as they have done in nearly every contest this season.

The area that still needs improvement offensively is simply knocking down shots. They shot just 4-of-13 from beyond the arc after going just 1-of-10 in their last game against Old Dominion.

The other area still requiring some work is rebounding. Although the Patriots edged the Pride 32-29 on the boards, the leading rebounders for the squad were Wright and freshman Vaughn Gray from the outside. Hewitt would like to see some more physicality out of his bigs on the glass.

“I’m trying to figure out why some of these teams play with us, no disrespect to them, Hewitt said, “there’s no fear because we don’t play physical back.”

The Patriots have a chance to continue working on their physical play as they travel to UNC Wilmington Saturday in a 7 p.m. tip-off, followed by the marquee home game on the schedule against VCU Feb. 14.

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