George Mason Ends The Game On A 13 – 6 Run
PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/14/2013 – Drexel Dragons Coach Bruiser Flint stated that the fate of his team making the NCAA Tournament comes down to three games in March. If that is the case, then these late February games are preparation for a trio of contests in March. Not an easy task to start against a team the caliber of the Patriots of George Mason. The Dragons rallied from a 20 point deficit to beat the Patriots two weeks ago. This time George Mason got the late rally to win 68 – 62 at the DAC. What Drexel did learn was that they have to execute late in the game to beat a team like George Mason. And, execute if they get to play three games in March.
“You’ve got to make plays in the heat of the game,” said Drexel Coach Bruiser Flint. “You can’t miss foul shots, you can’t give up layups. Heat of the game, you’ve got to make a play on either end of the floor. We gave up baskets on out-of-bounds plays with less than five seconds on the shot clock. They made their foul shots, we missed ours.”
Drexel took a 4-point lead at halftime 26 – 22. The Dragons would extend the lead to 32 – 24 behind back to back three-pointers by senior guard Derrick Thomas and junior guard Frantz Massenat. The lead would shrink to a single point at 34 – 33 on a three by George Mason guard Vaughn Gray at the 12:49 mark. Drexel continued to answer every Mason challenge. The game was tied at 45 with 6:44 on the clock. The Dragons would take a lead, the Patriots would tie it up until the 4:32 mark forward Erik Copes made a short jumper to take a 51 – 49 lead. The roles reversed with Drexel evening the game only to fall behind by a basket.
With 2:25 remaining sophomore guard Damion Lee drained a three-pointer to give Drexel a 56 – 55 lead. The basket was answered by a three by Corey Edwards that gave George Mason a lead they would never relinquish. The Dragons got back to within a point at 58 – 57, but a basket by Patriot guard Sherrod Wright late in the shot clock was the play that made the difference in the eyes of Flint.
“The biggest one was the one by Wright with seconds on the shot clock,” said Flint. “You’ve got to make plays in the heat of the game.”
The Dragons would make one more basket on a tip-in by sophomore forward Kazembe Abif with 25.7 seconds left on the clock. Drexel would miss four of five shots to the end, converting four of six free throw attempts. The 6-point lead at the end was the largest lead for George Mason.
“Guys made clutch plays, Corey Edwards made a clutch basket to put us up two (points) and allow us to catch our breath a little bit,” said George Mason Coach Paul Hewitt on how his team got the lead and kept it. “We made big plays.”
The Patriots has a 37 – 28 rebound advantage. Each team took down 10 offensive rebounds. Having more rebounds represented a turn around for George Mason as the boards were an advantage for the Dragons in previous games.
“They *Drexel) won the last game because they out toughed us on the boards,” Hewitt said. “We had a twenty-point lead, and they turned it into a scrum. Our bug guys kept hearing about how they got pushed around, and how they (Drexel) were tougher than our big guys. There is only so much you can tell that to a guy like Erik Copes. That is the difference in the game was our defensive rebounds. Our goal was to hold them to under eleven (offensive rebounds), and we held them to ten.”
Drexel shot 37.5% from the field (21 – 56), and made 9 of 27 shots from beyond the arc, but 6 of those baskets came in the first half. In the second half Drexel was 3 of 12. Thomas and Lee each had 16 ponts for the Dragons. Lee made 1 of 5 from deep. Massenat scored 13 points and had a team-high 4 assists. Senior forward Daryl McCoy pulled down 12 rebounds, 6 on each end of the floor. Drexel had a 22 – 12 advantage in Points Off Turnovers forcing 14 by George Mason.
Vertrail Vaughns led George Mason with 14 points. Copes scored 12 points and had a team-best 8 rebounds. The Patriots improve to 15 – 10 on the season.
Drexel drops to 15 – 10, 6 – 7 in CAA play. The Dragons have five more games to play before those games in March. The task is to reverse the season-long trend.
“You’ve got to make foul shots, make an open basket, get a key stop, and we haven’t done that all year,” said Flint.
Written By: Glenn Papazian