FAIRFAX, Va., Feb. 2011 - George Mason pulled away from a one-point halftime lead with a penetrating offense and a defense that limited James Madison to 28% second-half shooting in an 82-68 Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball win Saturday at the Patriot Center.
Mason extended the nation's second-longest winning streak to 11 games while improving to 21-5 overall. The Patriots sit in first place all alone in the CAA at 13-2 after Old Dominion's afternoon victory at VCU. JMU fell to 18-9 overall and dropped to sixth in the CAA at 8-7 after Mason swept the season series.
Ryan Pearson led four Patriots in double figures with 15 points and five rebounds. Cam Long added 13 points and seven boards. Vertrail Vaughns and Isaiah Tate chipped in 12 and 10 points, respectively. Mike Morrison narrowly missed a double-double with nine points, nine rebounds, and a team-best five assists.
Senior forward Denzel Bowles (Virginia Beach, Va./Kempsville) had his 14th double-double with 12 points and 11 boards to go with three assists with 10 of his points coming in the first half. Bowles became the 25th player in JMU history to surpass 1,000 career points on a first-half dunk with nine minutes to go assisted by Wells. He also tied the JMU season mark for rebounds by a senior player with 253, needing 27 to top Steve Stielper's 24-year-old JMU season record of 279.
Bowles was one of five Dukes in double figures. Sophomore Devon Moore (Columbus, Ohio/Northside) and junior Julius Wells (Toledo, Ohio/Libbey) totaled 14 apiece. Junior forward Rayshawn Goins (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville) posted a solid effort of 12 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Humpty Hitchens (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) added 10 points.
Mason led by one at the half and held a three-point advantage at 47-44 with 15 minutes to go when the Patriots got a key four-point possession. Pearson connected on a jumper while JMU sophomore Andrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School) was whistled for a foul underneath, giving possession right back to Mason. Morrison gathered an offensive rebound and slammed it home. Those two baskets ignited the key 11-2 run that allowed the Patriots to go up by 12.
JMU got as close as seven at 66-59 after a pair of Moore free throws with 5:36 remaining. However, the Patriots quickly pulled back ahead by 14 and hit 12-of-14 free throws down the stretch to clinch the 82-69 win.
Mason shot a consistent 46% in both halves and hit 23-of-30 free throws (76.7%). JMU shot 44% in the opening half but was stymied for 28% efficiency in the second half. The Dukes hit just 6-of-22 three point attempts (27%) for the game and went 16-for-18 (89%) at the line. JMU held a 40-37 edge in rebounds.
JMU used hot shooting early, including eight points by Moore, to jump out to a 12-4 lead and built upon it further to go up 21-9 with 12:37 to go after a Wells steal and ensuing layup by Ben Louis (Melbourne, Australia/St. Francis Xavier).
After a Mason timeout, the Patriots closed it to 27-22 by the under eight media, tied it at 31-31, and took their first lead since the first three minutes at 34-33 on a Cornelius three-point play. Mason took a four-point lead on a three-point play by Pearson and a basket by Long. A three-pointer by Hitchens cut the halftime margin to one at 39-38.
Bowles had 10 points and six rebounds in the opening half while Moore added eight. Vaughns led Mason with 10 first-half points, including a trio of three-pointers.
JMU will be on the road again on Tuesday night with a 7 p.m. game at Towson.
NOTES: In addition to its 11-game winning streak overall, Mason improved to 13-0 at home... Louis entered the top 10 in JMU history for games played with 117... Wells moved into the top 10 in JMU history for both games started (95) and field goal attempts (1,090)... Wells also climbed to 14th in career scoring at JMU with 1,258, passing Dan Ruland (1979-83).