George Mason 73, Santa Clara 66
FAIRFAX, Va. (AP)
Sherrod Wright had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Bryon Allen added 15 points as George Mason kept its season alive with a 73-66 win over Santa Clara in Game 2 of the College Basketball Invitational finals Wednesday night.
In front of a small, yet raucous sellout crowd of 1,280 at George Mason's practice facility, the Recreation & Athletic Center, the Patriots (22-15) overcame an early second-half run by the Broncos (25-12) and extended their season by two days.
''I didn't expect it to be that loud,'' Wright said. ''It was a great atmosphere. It reminded me of high school.''
The teams will meet for a deciding third game on Friday at George Mason's usual home court across campus, the 10,000-seat Patriot Center, where the Northern Virginia College Fair was being held Wednesday night.
''We've been in similar gyms before with no end zones, maybe deeper on the sidelines, but just as loud,'' Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating said. ''It was fun the fact that we played the game, not fun the fact that we lost the game. So we're looking forward to getting back into the arena on Friday.''
The Broncos' Kevin Foster, the school's all-time leading scorer who averaged 29.5 points over the first four games of the tournament, missed all four of his shots in the first half and did not score until sinking a free throw with 2:56 remaining. He finished with 16 points, 14 in the second half.
''I think we did a pretty decent job on (Foster),'' George Mason coach Paul Hewitt said. ''But I think we also have to understand that maybe his legs were a little tired.''
After missing 13 of its first 16 shots and shooting just 35 percent in the first half, Santa Clara made its push coming out of halftime. The Broncos went on a 10-2 run to open the second half, and Foster's second 3-pointer of the half cut the deficit to 47-42 with 12:04 remaining.
George Mason responded with a 9-2 run of its own to push the lead back to 56-44 on two foul shots by Patrick Holloway with 8:43 remaining, the Broncos again made things interesting late, using a 6-0 run keyed by two Brandon Clark layups to cut the lead to 70-66 with 16 seconds remaining.
But Corey Edwards rebounded a Clark miss in the closing seconds, and Jonathan Arledge's dunk at the other end provided the final margin as the buzzer sounds.
''We're playing our best ball of the year, we really are,'' Hewitt said. ''We got out in transition, and we had fewer breakdowns defensively. We did the things that we set out to do.''
The game was the first the Patriots have played in the reconstructed building, which was renovated in 2009 and is home to the school's wrestling and volleyball programs. George Mason did previously play its home games down the hall in the John Linn Gym prior to the Patriot Center opening in 1985.