George Mason vs. Towson: Patriots roll in game played after postponement and CAA reprimand of Tigers

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 28, 2011; 12:00 AM

For practical matters, with George Mason enjoying a midseason surge and Towson stuck in another full-season decline, it probably wouldn't have mattered when the Colonial Athletic Association teams took the court in Fairfax.

Even if the Tigers had made prudent travel plans and arrived as scheduled Wednesday, thus avoiding a postponement and a public reprimand from the league commissioner, the margin still surely would have been substantial.

Instead, the Patriots had to wait 21 hours before inflicting a heavy loss on their weary guests, an 84-58 rout Thursday in front of 3,791 spectators who had sloshed though the muck for free admission to Patriot Center.

With a 23-0 run bridging the halves and a 17-0 push later, the Patriots (16-5, 8-2) won their sixth straight, remained unbeaten at home and defeated the Tigers (4-17, 0-10) for the 17th consecutive time since Towson joined the CAA in 2001-02.

Luke Hancock had 19 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds, Andre Cornelius made five three-pointers, and Cam Long contributed 12 points, 8 assists and a career-high 5 steals.

The postponement brought about "a little frustration because everyone was anxious to play," Long said. "It draws us back a little bit, but regardless of what happens, you always have to be prepared."

Towson led 23-20 late in the first half, when the Patriots executed a monstrous mid-game surge for the second time this week. On Monday, they scored 18 in a row to bury Delaware.

"I thought we were really ready to play [Wednesday], and then when the game got postponed, I was a little bit concerned as to how we would respond," Patriots Coach Jim Larranaga said. "But our players did a very good job meeting the challenge when we fell behind."

At that point, Larranaga turned to a smaller lineup and the Patriots responded with 15 straight points to end the half - seven by Hancock and six by Long. They then struck for eight in a row after the break, capped by Cornelius's three-pointer. Long made the defensive gem of the game, chasing down Josh Brown on a breakaway and blocking a layup attempt from behind.

RaShawn Polk had 19 points for the Tigers, who have lost nine straight and are heading for a seventh consecutive losing season under veteran Coach Pat Kennedy.

From the 2:20 mark of the first half until the two-minute mark of the game, the Patriots shot 23 of 33 (8 of 15 three-pointers and 15 of 18 two-pointers).

The defense was also sharp, holding the opponent to fewer than 70 points for the sixth time in seven games. "Everybody is starting to realize that defense is where it is at," Hancock said. "We have a lot of confidence going into these next couple of games."

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