George Mason, which couldn't miss a shot in a 17-point victory over James Madison last week, should have saved a few of those baskets for last night's game.
While George Mason was having an awful time from the field, West Virginia, particularly Dale Blaney and Renardo Brown, enjoyed a wonderful shooting evening en route to a 83-67 win before 4,543 at Patriot Center.
The spanking new Center has not yet provided the home-court advantage the Patriots (7-6) had hoped it would as they dropped their fifth game in seven outings here. West Virginia (7-5), playing George Mason for the first time, took an early liking to the Center, with 62 percent accuracy.
"You're going to shoot what they shot from the floor when you get a lot of layups," said George Mason Coach Joe Harrington, "and they got a lot of them. I was very disappointed with our effort on defense. It had to be our worst all year."
George Mason couldn't find anyone to stop either Blaney or Brown, who finished with career-highs of 29 and 23 points, respectively. Their efforts put the Mountaineers ahead early and kept them there.
Brown's short jumper, his third of five straight baskets, in the lane put West Virginia ahead, 6-4, with 1:55 elapsed. The Patriots never caught up.
Brown had 16 points and Blaney 12 as the Mountaineers expanded their lead to 10 before finally settling for a 40-33 lead at intermission.
George Mason couldn't get its offense going. Turnovers, missed open shots and poor defense at times cost the Patriots dearly.
"We missed an awful lot of layups," Harrington said. "The ball just didn't seem to want to go in."
Led by Kenny Sanders (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Ricky Wilson (18 points), the Patriots made two runs at the Mountaineers in the second half. George Mason took advantage of three turnovers to cut the Mountaineers' lead to four points on two occasions. Wilson's layup, following a nice pass from Earl Moore, pulled the Patriots close, 49-45, with 12:26 left.
The Mountaineers then put George Mason away with a 17-4 spurt. Blaney, who made nine of 15 field goal attempts and all 11 free throws, opened the blitz with a 16-footer. The senior guard also had a three-point play, a breakaway basket and two free throws in the 5 1/2-minute span.
George Mason had five missed shots and committed three turnovers in that crucial period.
"We broke their press and attacked their basket real well," said Blaney, who also had four steals and three assists. "On the road you have to work for shots and get it inside. We did that."
Brown, Herbie Brooks, Holman Harley and Darrell Pinckney also had easy baskets to help the Mountaineers build their lead.
George Mason never got closer than 13 points the remainder of the game.