Men’s Basketball Team Rallies for Senior Night Victory

Posted: February 22, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

On a Senior Night, playing without two of their top three scorers, the Mason men’s basketball team found scoring from some unfamiliar sources as the Patriots overcame a second-half deficit to defeat Georgia State University, 60-54, on Tuesday at the Patriot Center.

Jordan Carter had a career-high 14 points and seniors Tim Burns and Gabe Norwood scored nine and six points respectively, as the Patriots clinched a winning record at home for the ninth-straight season. Will Thomas added 13 points, eight rebounds and a career-high six assists.

Georgia State (10-18, 5-12) used a 12-4 run midway through the second half to take its largest lead of the game, 45-40, but Mason (15-13, 9-8) responded with a 7-2 run to tie the contest at 47-47 with eight minutes to play. After Georgia State retook the lead at 51-48, Carter took over. He had a pair of drives and layups, giving Mason a 52-51 lead with four minutes to go. Mason’s defense drew a shot-clock violation and Carter made them pay with a three-pointer at the other end.

Lance Perique kept Georgia State in the game with a three-pointer to make it 55-54, but Thomas answered with a layup for a three-point Mason cushion with two minutes to play. He was fouled the next trip down but couldn’t convert either free throws, leaving the door very much open for the Panthers.

But Leonard Mendez missed a three-pointer and Burns got the rebound and was fouled. He made a free throw for a four-point lead, and as Georgia State came down looking to close the lead, Norwood came up with a steal and found Burns for a layup, completing the scoring.

The game was a back-and-forth affair early until Chris Fleming’s jump hook from the right side made it 15-14 Mason with 11:24 to go in the half. The Patriots held the lead the rest of the half, and a 6-2 run over the final two minutes gave Mason a 30-24 lead at the break.

A large reason for that lead was Mason’s production in the paint. The Patriots outscored Georgia State 18-8 in the paint and Mason had 12 second-chance points to just three for the Panthers. Thomas had five points and five assists at the break, while Darryl Monroe had seven rebounds, five on the offensive end. Brandon Cartwright kept the Panthers in the game with 10 points, including 2 of 2 from behind the arc.

Prior to the game, the Patriots celebrated Senior Night. Tim Burns, Makan Konate, Charles Makings and Gabe Norwood were introduced for the final time in front of the home crowd, as was manager Sean Passey. Burns, Konate and Norwood started for the Patriots. Makings is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Mason played without leading scorer Folarin Campbell, who was recovering from a strained hamstring suffered in the final minute against Kent State last Saturday, and third-leading scorer John Vaughan, who was in street clothes for the contest after violating a team rule.

With a crowd of 4,567 at the game, the Patriots set a school record this season for attendance with 88,837 fans, an average of 6,834 per contest. The previous record of 62,555 was set in 1985-86, the Patriot Center’s first season. Last year had been the second-best season, as Mason drew 58,931 fans at home. In addition, two games were sell-outs this season.

The Patriots return to action on Saturday at 1 p.m. when they take on Northeastern University in the regular-season final for both teams. Mason will learn its seed in the CAA Tournament after that contest. The game with the Huskies will be Jim Larranaga’s 300th as Mason head coach.

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