George Mason must not have gotten the message about being an 11-point underdog.
The George Mason Patriots went up 8-5 at the 16:59 mark, thanks to a Sherrod Wright three ball and never looked back as they wouldn't trail for the rest of the game, on their way to the 91-80 beat down that they handed the UMass Minutemen.
Wright had a game high 22 points (2-for-2 from 3 and 4-for-7 from the free throw stripe). Byron Allen chipped in with 19 points going a perfect 6-6 from the line.
The UMass offense was shaky at best shooting just 40 percent from the line and an unhelpful 7-for-25 performance from deep. This was highlighted by Chaz's atrocious 3-15 effort from the floor and tallying just 8 points, which caused him to sit out the final minutes of the game.
UMass got to line often but couldn't capitalize, missing 11 of their 30 attempts.
The Patriots pulled away at the ten-minute mark of the first half and went on a 21-12 run. Cady Lalanne (11 points, 10 boards, and four blocks) did have a put-back layup to end the half and attempted to give UMass some momentum.
However George Mason was able to quiet the crowd to start the second half, scoring a quick six points that resulted in a quick timeout from Coach Derek Kellogg.
UMass had trouble getting anything going in the paint, thanks in large part to Erik Copes who had a double double with 12 points and 15 rebounds to go along with a team high four swats.
For most of the second half George Mason's lead stayed steady, fluctuating between nine and 14 points. Every attempt from UMass to start a run to get back in the game was immediately terminated as George Mason always seemed to have an answer.
Patrick Holloway chipped in from deep hitting three three treys at key moments to help keep the Minutemen comeback at bay.
High flying Maxie Esho (11 points in just 13 minutes of play) had a steal and layup at the 3:40 mark to cut the lead to 11 and tried to mount a late comeback for the Minutemen. They would get it down to 82-75 thanks to a Trey Davis jumper with 1:23 left to play.
But the Patriot's offense proved too much, thanks to timely three point shooting and clutch free throws, hitting 7-8 in the last minute. They were able to produce 22 points above their season average and tonight's 91 points is a season high.
This loss drops UMass to 19-5 overall and 6-4 in conference play. With losing 4 of their last seven, it looks like they may play themselves out of a tournament spot if these kinds of performances continue. Their next match-up is on the road at the always rowdy George Washington Colonials. Also with A-10 conference leaders Saint Louis and VCU still on the schedule, UMass will have to find that fast pace effective offense that led them to be ranked as high as 13th earlier in the season.
For George Mason this was a good win on the road for a struggling ball club. The win improves them to 9-15 and their second straight conference win. It may be too little too late to save the season, but a strong finish could give the Patriots some momentum for the off-season.