All season, the George Mason men's basketball team has been on a mission to find players other than George Evans to provide scoring. Last night, the Patriots found those players, and the result was a 74-58 victory over UNC Wilmington.
Senior forward Keith Holdan scored a game-high 17 points, and junior forward Terrance Nixon--making a surprise start--added 12 for host George Mason, which won its 15th straight at the Patriot Center. UNC Wilmington (6-7, 2-3 Colonial Athletic Association) lost its sixth straight.
The victory was important to the Patriots (7-7, 2-2) for several reasons. It evened their conference record after consecutive three-point losses last week at William & Mary and James Madison.
In addition, the Patriots won despite getting only six points and five field goal attempts from Evans, a junior forward who entered the game leading the CAA in scoring at 20.4 points per game but was nursing a sore back. George Mason is 4-0 this season when someone other than Evans--the reigning CAA player of the year--leads the team in scoring.
"Every time he took the ball, they had two or three guys come in on him, so five shots is probably pretty good considering that," said Holdan, the Patriots' third-leading scorer at 10 points per game entering last night. "If he could shoot, it was nice, but usually he passed it out and we passed it around until we got a shot."
Junior forward Erik Herring had 12 points and, for the second straight game, took the most shots of any Patriot, 11. That had to please Coach Jim Larranaga, who has been exhorting Herring to be more assertive on offense. Patriot senior guard Ahmad Dorsett had 10 points, including a game-high three three-pointers.
Larranaga had inserted Nixon into the lineup to provide rebounding help, and also because normal starter Rob Anderson was nursing a sore ankle. Anderson managed to play 12 minutes, but Nixon took advantage of his 19 minutes by grabbing six rebounds and taking 10 shots.
"Rob Anderson has been doing a terrific job in the last couple games, but against James Madison [on Saturday] he had only one rebound," Larranaga said. "Tonight, Terrance got six rebounds, and that's what we wanted him to give us."
The game was close for most of the first half, but George Mason closed before the break with a 14-3 run, capped by a three-pointer by Herring with nine seconds left.
The Patriots then opened the second half with a 9-3 run to extend their lead to 22 with 10 minutes 58 seconds remaining.
Notes: Sophomore forward Quilninious Randall quit the George Mason team. He played in eight games this season, with one basket in 29 minutes.