Mason Tops VCU, 63-51

Posted: January 30, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

The Mason men’s basketball team used a 20-4 second-half run to take control of a physical game and snap VCU’s seven-game winning streak, handing the Colonial Athletic Association’s first-place team a 63-51 loss at Patriot Center.

Mason improved to 10-0 at home and moved within one game of VCU in the CAA standings. The win came in front of 7,912 fans, including a school-record 2,061 students.

Will Thomas had his ninth double-double of the year, scoring 21 points on 8 of 9 shooting while grabbing 15 rebounds. Folarin Campbell had 17 points and John Vaughan added 10, his 13th straight game in double figures, the longest current streak in the CAA. Jamal Shuler led VCU with 21, while Eric Maynor had 12.

The first half was one of runs. After VCU jumped out to a 5-0 lead, Mason responded with a 6-0 run to go on top. With the score tied at 8-8, Mason outscored the Rams 9-3 to take a 17-11 lead.

But VCU then limited Mason to one field goal over the next seven and a half minutes. Despite the strong defense, the Rams were able to go up by just four, 23-19. After a 6-0 Mason run, VCU hit the final basket of the half to make it 25-25 at the break.

Eric Maynor and Jamal Shuler each had nine points at the half for VCU with Maynor going three of three from three-point range. Will Thomas had nine points and five rebounds while Folarin Campbell had eight points. The Rams held a 17-12 edge on the boards.

The Patriots scored eight early points in the second half, but then went through a scoreless stretch of more than four minutes. The Rams took advantage, going ahead, 39-33.

Thomas ended the stretch with a hook shot in the lane and Folarin Campbell added a pair of free throws to make it 39-37. After a Mason stop, the Patriots had a chance to tie the game, but John Vaughan was called for a charge on a close play underneath. Mason shook it off, though, as Campbell hit a baseline three-pointer to put Mason ahead, 40-39.

A Vaughan hook shot and a pair of Cam Long free throws pushed it to an 11-0 run before Maynor answered with a pull-up jumper to cut the Mason lead to 44-41.

Thomas responded with a spin move to his left and an emphatic dunk, making it 46-41. Shuler cut it to three with a spin move in the lane, but a Vaughan three-pointer off a Thomas offensive rebound made it 49-43. The next time down, Thomas’ dunk off a Long pass gave Mason its largest lead of the game, 51-43. Out of a VCU timeout, Dre Smith had a steal and he went coast-to-coast for the layup and a 53-43 lead.

The Rams showed why they are in first place in the CAA out of an official timeout as first Franck Ndongo scored off an offensive rebound when he missed the front-end of a 1-and-1, then, after a pair of Mason misses under the basket, Maynor found Shuler for a three-pointer to make it 53-48.

Mason’s response came on a Thomas basket inside off a nice pass from Smith. Ndongo again missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and this time, Thomas came away with the rebound. From there Mason made 6 of 6 from the line to ice the game.

Mason will next take the court on Saturday when the Patriots host James Madison at 2 p.m. That game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet.

Saturday’s game will be Kids Day at Patriot Center featuring an appearance by SpongeBob SquarePants. It’s also Basketball Alumni Day, and Mardi Gras beads will be given away to students with a valid ID. Following the game, there will be player autographs and free throws.

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