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 junior guard Brandon 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.
The Tribe returns to action when it starts a three-game road trip at Towson on Wednesday, Jan. 9. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. Fans can catch the action on the Tribe Radio Network with Jay Colley, Bill McDonald and Charlie Woollum on the call. The Tide 92.3 FM in Williamsburg is the flagship station of the Tribe Radio Network and the broadcast can be heard over the Internet at TribeAthletics.com.
Monday, Jan. 7, will mark the kickoff of The Chesapeake Bank Show at Buffalo Wild Wings in New Town. The show begins at 6:30 p.m. with the interview and live radio broadcast taking place between 7-7:30 p.m. Fans are encouraged to arrive early. This season, Buffalo Wild Wings and Hometown Radio will participate in a profit share with a local organization during the Coach's Show and all day on Monday. The first profit share organization will be the Tribe Club. Click HERE for the 'Event Ticket' and for more information on the Jan. 7 show.