Feb. 18, 2012
FAIRFAX, Va. - Lamar University rallied from 17 points down to grab a late second half lead, but couldn't hold on as George Mason pulled out a 75-71 non-conference basketball victory Saturday afternoon at the Patriot Center.
The loss, which came in the Cardinals' first ever contest in the Sears BracketBusters weekend, dropped the Cardinals to 17-10 on the season. Lamar will return to Southland Conference play at home Wednesday as Stephen F. Austin visits for a 7 p.m. contest.
After trailing 47-34 at the half, Lamar slowly chipped away and grabbed its first lead since the 11:22 mark of the first half on a Mike James steal and breakaway dunk that put the Cardinals ahead 69-68 with just 3:21 to play.
"We thought if we could get it under 10, we could put some pressure on them," said LU head coach Pat Knight. "We had to get stops (in the second half) because our defense was terrible in the first half. What got us back was our defense, but our offense was also more patient."
Andre Cornelius answered with what would prove to be the game winning basket 22 seconds later as the senior guard knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Patriots a 71-69 advantage. After a Charlie Harper miss, Bryon Allen scored to push GMU's lead to four points at the 2:09 mark.
Brandon Davis, who led Lamar with 13 points, hit a pair of free throws to pull the Cards to within two at 73-71 with 1:49 to play. Anthony Miles then had a chance to tie the game with nine seconds left, but his floater in the lane was just off the mark.
GMU forward Ryan Pearson hauled down his 10th rebound of the game on the Miles miss, and his two free throws with six seconds left sealed the win for the Patriots (23-6). In addition to the game-high 10 rebounds, Pearson added 17 points and four assists.
"We went back and forth with them, but you're going to be tired when you have to come back from 17 down," Knight said. "They hit big shots. (Andre) Cornelius hit a big three and Pearson is as good a player as you'll find. I thought their seniors stepped up and made big plays."
The game was close early and a Vincenzo Nelson three-point play tied the game at 12 with 16:17 on the clock. Donley Minor knocked down a jumper less than three minutes later that capped a 9-0 LU run to put the Cardinals ahead 21-12.
GMU responded with a 12-0 run of its own and went up 24-21 at the 10:13 mark. The Patriots, who shot 17-of-25 (68.0 percent) from the floor in the first half, continued the run and led by as many as 15 points in the first half.
Lamar started the game with a different starting lineup than usual as three starters were benched for disciplinary actions. James and Miles were held out of the starting lineup, and Stan Brown was suspended for the entire game after off-court incidents earlier in the day.
After being outscored 24-12 in the paint in the first half, Lamar completely turned the tables in the second half. The Cards held Mason to just four points in the paint in the second half while scoring 22 of their own. Lamar also outscored GMU 22-7 in second chance points as 14 of its 30 rebounds came off the offensive glass.
Lamar finished the game shooting 47.4 percent from the floor, including 4-of-11 aim from 3-point range. The two teams combined for 35 turnovers, with Pearson committing six of the Patriots' 19.
Devon Lamb added 12 points for the Cardinals, but his run of five straight double-doubles came to an end. Lamar's leading rebounded managed just two boards in 22 minutes of play. Charlie Harper led the Cards with seven boards, adding six points off the bench.
James finished with 10 points and Miles added seven points and five assists. Nikko Acosta had his best scoring day as a Cardinal, finishing with seven points.
Sherrod Wright came off the Patriots' bench to score 13 points. Cornelius, who fouled out in just 14 minutes, added nine points on three 3-pointers.