Deon Jones had 13 points and nine rebounds at George Mason.
Courtesy: Jeff Jacobsen
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Deon Jones had 13 points and nine rebounds at George Mason.
Patriots Dodge Tigers' Upset Bid, 72-60
Courtesy: Athletics Media Relations  
Release: 01/21/2012
   Box Score
FAIRFAX, Va. – Playing its third straight game against a team that was leading the Colonial Athletic Association, Towson University (0-20, 0-8) nearly pulled off a major upset before George Mason University (15-5, 7-1) held on for a 72-60 victory over the Tigers at the Patriot Center on Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers, who trailed by as many as 18 points early in the second half, had pulled to within 63-58 when George Mason sophomore guard Sherrod Wright nailed a clutch three-point basket with 1:35 remaining. That three-pointer gave the Patriots a 66-58 advantage. In the final 45 seconds, the Patriots canned six straight free throws, enabling them to avoid the upset bid.

Towson had three players score in double figures for the seventh time this season. Sophomore forward Marcus Damas, who exploded for 25 points in the first meeting with Mason in December, led the Tigers with 19 points and seven rebounds. Senior forward Robert Nwankwo posted his third consecutive double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Nwankwo, who ranks 20th nationally in blocked shots, had three rejections against Mason. Freshman Deon Jones was just one rebound shy of his second double-double of the year as the guard tallied 13 points and grabbed nine boards.

Wright came off the bench to score a game-high 22 points for George Mason. The victory was the Patriots’ eighth win in their last nine games. George Mason has won 21 of its last 22 CAA regular season games.

At halftime, the Patriots owned a seemingly-comfortable 44-27 lead. Trailing by 18 midway through the second half, Damas scored eight points during a 10-0 Towson run that enabled the Tigers to get back in the game. When he scored on a tip-in with 12:48 remaining, the Tigers had trimmed their deficit to 49-41.

The Tigers pulled to within 58-51 when sophomore Erique Gumbs scored on a driving layup with 5:50 remaining. Moments later, Gumbs hit a jump hook from the right side and the Patriots’ lead was down to 58-53 with 5:17 left. Gumbs finished the game with nine points and a career-high nine rebounds.

When Gumbs nailed one of two free throws with 2:17 remaining, the Tigers’ deficit was down to 63-58.

However, Wright’s three-pointer gave the Patriots some breathing room. The Mason guard shot 7-for-12 from the floor, hit both three-pointers he attempted and went 7-for-7 from the foul line.

The Tigers, who led 6-5 in the early going, were victimized by an early 11-0 run and fell behind by 16-6 with 14:03 left in the first half. However, the Tigers battled back and pulled to within 26-22 when Damas nailed a jumper with 6:05 remaining before halftime.

George Mason responded with a 10-2 spurt and built a 36-24 advantage three minutes later. The Patriots extended their lead to 44-27 at halftime by scoring the final eight points of the half.  Although the Tigers owned a 20-15 rebounding advantage at the intermission, the Patriots offset that margin by making 53 percent of their shots, including five of eight three-point attempts. The Tigers made only 33 percent from the floor.

The Tigers outrebounded the Patriots by a decisive 43-30 margin in the game. Towson, which had 22 offensive rebounds, hurt its chances of winning by making only 11 of 21 free throws.

Towson continues a challenging stretch of five games in 11 days on Monday as the Tigers travel to Delaware for a 7 p.m. tip against the Blue Hens. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.

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