Mason Downs JMU; Patriots Seeded No. 2 for CAA Tournament

Posted: February 27, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

The George Mason men’s basketball team honored its three seniors before its regular-season finale against James Madison University (JMU) on Saturday and the trio of Lamar Butler, Jai Lewis and Tony Skinn made sure it was memorable. Mason, 25th-ranked, downed JMU, 96-68, in front of a crowd of 8,448, the sixth largest in school history.

George Mason and the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) each won on Saturday to finish conference play at 15-3, so each earns a share of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) regular season title. The Seahawks will enter the CAA tournament as the no. 1 seed, however, based on the conference’s tie-breaking procedures.

The Seahawks and the Patriots split their meetings during the season, but UNCW wins the tie-breaker because they beat no. 3 seed Hofstra in one of their two meetings, while Mason lost its only matchup to the Pride. The No. 4 seed and final first-round bye goes to Old Dominion.

As the no. 2 seed, Mason will play its first game in the CAA tournament this Saturday at 6 p.m. against either no. 7 Towson University or no. 10 Georgia State University, depending on which team wins that matchup.

In the game against JMU, Butler scored nine of Mason’s first 13 points and finished with 27 on seven 3-pointers. Jai Lewis had 12 points and eight rebounds and Tony Skinn finished with 10 points and four assists. Will Thomas had 21 points on 9 of 10 shooting, and Folarin Campbell had a career-high 10 assists.

Mason (22-6, 15-3) scored eight unanswered points to break a 5-5 tie and take control of the game. The Patriots then used an 18-7 run later in the half to build a double-digit lead that was never threatened. The Patriots took a 12-point lead into the half and went ahead by as many as 30 before James Madison trimmed the lead late.

With about six minutes to play, the three seniors left the game for good and the Mason bench kept them entertained. The Patriots reached the 90-point mark for the first time this season.

For the Patriots, it was the school’s first-ever win as a ranked team. The Patriots also won for the 15th time in the past 17 games. Mason shot .617 from the field in the game and made 12 three-pointers while JMU was held to 40.3 percent shooting.

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