Back in October, the George Mason Patriots figured to have a great opportunity to compete for the Colonial Athletic Association conference title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Entering conference play, Mason had the best non-conference record of any team in the CAA, but the Patriots ultimately finished four games out of first place in the conference and the 4-seed in the CAA Tournament.
Then, down in Richmond, GMU looked primed to get to the CAA title game and steal the bid to the Big Dance, but they fell short and ultimately accepted an invitation to the CBI Tournament.
On Tuesday, the Patriots went on the road to face future CAA-rival, College of Charleston, and behind a terrific offensive performance from their starters, were able to achieve the upset victory, 78-77.
Mason’s five starters, Jonathan Arledge, Erik Copes, Sherrod Wright, Bryon Allen and Corey Edwards combined to score 66 of the team’s 78 total points. All five starters were in double figures. Wright led the way with 20 points, but it was Erik Copes’ tip-in with one second remaining that gave GMU a one-point victory over the Cougars.
That widespread production was not the most expected outcome for the Patriots. Throughout this season, only Wright has been truly consistent scoring the ball. Mason lost several games in conference paly down the stretch, when Wright got cold and nobody else was able to step up and produce. However, down the stretch of the year, Arledge, Allen and Edwards have all improved their offensive productions and that could be a scary sign for Charleston and the rest of the CAA teams next season.
George Mason will face the winner of Texas and Houston in the second round of the CBI Tournament at home.