FAIRFAX, Va., Jan. 28, 2012 - Senior forward Ryan Pearson had 29 points and 15 rebounds to lead George Mason to an 89-79 win over James Madison in a Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball game Saturday afternoon at the Patriot Center.
Mason won for the 17th time in the last 18 meetings between the teams. GMU won its sixth in a row to improve to 18-5 overall and remain in first place in the CAA at 10-1. JMU fell to 10-12 overall and 3-8 in the league.
Pearson led all scorers with 29 points and 15 rebounds for his ninth double-double. He was 11-for-18 from the field and hit a pair of three-point field goals for the Patriots. His 15 boards were one-third of Mason's total while outrebounding the Dukes 45-29.
Mason had four players with double digit points. Along with Pearson's 29, Bryon Allen and Vertrail Vaughns each scored 14 while Andre Cornelius added 10 for the GMU, which outscored JMU 48-24 in the paint. Pearson was the only player with double digit rebounds, including 10 on the Patriots' defensive end, helping to hold the Dukes to just nine second chance points.
JMU senior guard Humpty Hitchens (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) matched his career high to lead the Dukes with 27 points including 17 in the first half. Redshirt junior forward Andrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School) led the Dukes in rebounding, nabbing eight boards, while also notching 15 points, including a trio of trifectas. Redshirt junior guard A.J. Davis (Columbus, Ohio/Harmony Community) added 13 points for the Dukes, 10 of which came in the second half after playing only three minutes in the first due to foul trouble.
Mason led by two at the break and pushed the margin to 10 at 57-47 in the first four minutes of the second half. The Patriots went up by as much as 12 and still led 69-59 at the 8:39 mark when JMU began its move to get back in the game.
A jumper by Hitchens and a three by Davis quickly cut it to five at 69-64 at the eight-minute media timeout. Semenov added an offensive putback underneath to make it 69-66 with 7:17 to go.
After a three by Pearson put Mason up 74-68 with six minutes to go, the Patriots missed their next four jump shots and two free throws to give the Dukes an opening. A jumper by Hitchens cut it to four but Davis missed the front end of a one-and-one chance at the line before then missing two more at the stripe.
Davis recovered to connect on two free throws on his third chance to make it 74-72, but Mason pulled away from there. A layup by Wright, 1-of-2 free throws by Morrison and a jumper by Wright turned it back into a three-possession game at 79-72.
A three by Davis cut it to four with two minutes to go, but Allen hit a layup and Mason hit eight of its 10 free throws in the final minute to record the 89-79 decision.
Both teams topped 50-percent shooting from the floor in the first half with Mason finishing at 48 percent for the game and 47 percent for the Dukes. JMU shot 42 percent (10-for-24) from the arc while Mason hit 8-of-21 (38 percent) from long range.
With the game tied at 24-24 in the first half and neither team taking a lead larger than four, Mason orchestrated an 8-0 swing to grab a 32-24 lead with 5:42 to go. After a three-point play by Moore followed by an Erik Copes jumper, Hitchens put together a personal 8-0 run with a pair of threes sandwiching a layup to put the Dukes ahead 35-34. Pearson then scored the final seven points of the half for the Patriots with his layup at the buzzer giving the home team a 43-41 lead at the break.