George Mason Hold On, Knock Off Drexel In First Round

The game began with four points in the first four minutes. Drexel shot under 30 percent for the first five minutes. Both teams combined for 15 turnovers and just six assists.

In other words, it was exactly what you'd expect from the first game of the CAA Tournament.

Serving as the rubber match between the tightly matched teams, it was representative of the first two matchups.

As has been the (well-reported but much-maligned) case all year, Drexel spent the majority of the first half struggling to break the Patriots' press.

And then, once they broke the press, it seemed as if they were so thrilled to get past the press that they wanted to get a shot off as soon as possible. But Frantz Massenat held down the fort with seven points, leading the team while Damion Lee remained M.I.A.

On the other side of the court, George Mason spent the first ten minutes making beautiful moves in the paint on the offensive end, but then inexplicably moved away from the approach towards the end of the first half, and the results were reflective. After Mason built a 13-7 lead on inside buckets from Jonathan Arledge and Marko Gujanicic, neither player saw a point after the 11:22 mark.

And so the Dragons, weak on the inside this season, counted their blessings and hurried to catch up. After taking a 23-22 lead, however, they fell off and watched George Mason's pressure take a four point lead heading into halftime.

But nobody was ready for the second half barrage that the Patriots were preparing to unleash in the first seven minutes of the second half.

Paul Hewitt must have given his team some special water, a la the movie Space Jam, because they emerged from the locker room completely energized. Unfortunately for Bruiser Flint's squad, his locker room was fresh out of juice.

After the tight first half, GMU came out and took a 12-point lead just 6:25 into the second half. The streak was fueled by an abundance of fouls committed by the Dragons, the foul count at one point getting as lopsided as 7-0.

But it wasn't all on the foul count. George Mason simply went harder for the ball, converted more of their chances, and got to the line without fear.

While the same couldn't be said for Drexel, we all know that nothing is infinite. After taking it on the chin for quite some time, Massenat was once again converting layups, and the score was back to a seven-point margin with 5:05 to play.

And then Massenat hit a three. In a game full of momentum swings, none were bigger than the three.

The three, along with another three-pointer from Damion Lee with just over 1:00 remaining, pulled the Dragons within two points. And the ball ended up in Dragon hands with 38.5 seconds left, still down just two. But Massenat made his first poor decision of the game, pulling up for an off-balance three at the top of the key, and the game slipped away as the Patriots held on to win, 60-54.

George Mason didn't mind that Sherrod Wright decided to rack up 18 second-half points while holding on to the lead, but in the end, the story here was Drexel. All season long they fell just fell short, and Saturday night continued the trend. As Bruiser Flint put it in the post game conference, "We haven't made a play all season when we needed it. Bottom line."

And George Mason did. They'll now face number one seed Northeastern at 2 PM tomorrow afternoon.

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