WILLIAMSBURG- The William and Mary men's basketball team suffered a 73-66 setback in its return to Colonial Athletic Association play against George Mason on Saturday afternoon. The Tribe pulled even at 61 on a Brandon Britt 3-pointer with three minutes remaining, but Mason responded with seven straight points to seize control. W&M fell to 7-6 overall and 1-1 in the league, while the Patriots upped their mark to 8-6 and 1-1 in the CAA.
Junior forward Tim Rusthoven led the charge with his first double-double of the season and fourth of his career, scoring 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go along with a game-high 11 rebounds. Sophomore guard Marcus Thornton shared team-high scoring honors with 19 points, while Britt added 18 points, three assists and three steals.
Mason jumped out to an early 11-2, hitting five of its first six shots from the floor over the opening four minutes of the contest. The Tribe closed to within one, 18-17, on a pair of Thornton free throws at the 10:23 mark. After a Thornton 3-pointer cut the deficit to 25-23 with 6:15 remaining in the opening half, the Patriots scored six straight points, pushing its lead to eight, 31-23, less than two minutes later.
The Mason lead was seven, 33-26, after a pair of Sherrod Wright free throws at the 2:29 mark, before the Tribe closed the half on an 11-0 run. W&M went straight to Rusthoven in the post, before Britt found freshman Terry Tarpey for a dunk in transition to close the gap to three. A pair of free throws from Rusthoven at the 1:28 mark made it 33-32.
Thornton's 3-pointer from the right wing gave the College its first lead of the game at 35-33 with 55 seconds remaining. A Britt steal and fastbreak lay-up sent the Tribe to the locker room with a 37-33 advantage. The Tribe shot 52 percent (13-of-25) from the floor in the opening half.
A Rusthoven offensive putback just over a minute into the second half gave W&M a six-point advantage, 39-33. The lead was again six after a Britt steal led to a Matt Rum transition lay-up at the 15:28 mark.
George Mason answered with a 9-0 run to regain the lead. Wright knocked down a jumper and then found Jonathan Arledge for a lay-up to pull the Patriots even at 43. His steal and fast-break lay-up put Mason on top and a Bryon Allen free throw with 11:55 remaining made it 46-43 in favor of the visitors.
The Mason cushion reached six, 51-45, after a pair of Arledge free throw at the 10:38 mark, before the College came roaring back. Four straight points from Thornton drew the College even at 55 with 6:46 remaining, before a Britt free throw gave W&M a one-point advantage.
The teams traded the lead before a driving bucket by Corey Edwards put Mason up three, 61-58, with 3:30 left. On the ensuing Tribe possession, Thornton drove the middle of the lane and kicked to Britt for a three from the right corner to tie the contest at 61 with 3:04 remaining.
Mason countered with seven straight points to take control of the contest. Johnny Williams notched a conventional 3-point play at the 2:48 mark that put the Patriots back on top, and a Wright 3-point play at the 1:54 mark extended the margin to 68-61. W&M could get no closer than four points the rest of the way.
W&M finished the game shooting 46.2 percent (24-of-52) from the floor, including six 3-pointers. Mason shot 59.1 percent (13-of-22) from the floor in the second half on its way to 48.1 percent (26-of-54) for the game. The Patriots held a 37-25 advantage on the glass and finished 17-of-24 (70.8 percent) from the free throw line.
Wright led Mason with a career-high 28 points on 10-of-17 from the floor and 7-of-8 from the free throw line to go with a team-high seven rebounds. Edward chipped in 10 points and five assists, while Williams added nine points.