George Mason"s Sherrod Wright, center, is mobbed by teammates after hitting a three-pointer at the buzzer to lead George Mason to a 67-64 victory over Richmond in the 2012 Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic. (JOE MAHONEY/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

It took George Mason more than 38 minutes to take its first lead over Richmond on Saturday, and guard Sherrod Wright made sure the Patriots finished with it.

The junior nailed a three-pointer from the wing as the buzzer sounded to lift George Mason to a dramatic 67-64 victory over its former Colonial Athletic Association rival as part of the first annual Governor’s Holiday Hoops Classic at Richmond Coliseum.

Wright’s shot, which was set up by point guard Corey Edwards (13 points, three assists), capped off an exhilarating 18-3 Patriots surge in which they clawed back from a 61-49 deficit with less than eight minutes remaining. Wright led all players with 22 points, but it wasn’t until his final basket that the Patriots ensured their latest trip to Richmond would be a memorable one.

“I knew that if I got it, I’m gonna get a good shot . . . I’ve made the shot before,” said Wright, who also appeared to be fouled before his teammates swarmed him on the floor. “I think I was supposed to go to the free throw line. I’m not gonna argue.”

But turnovers, the primary issue for George Mason since Coach Paul Hewitt took over the program last season, almost did the Patriots (7-4) in again against Richmond (9-4). They committed 17 for the game.

After George Mason had closed the deficit to 61-58 entering the final media timeout, Wright had an entry pass intercepted by Richmond’s Greg Robbins to momentarily halt the Patriots’ momentum. But the Spiders were shaky late, missing costly free throws while being held without a field goal over the final seven minutes.

George Mason took its first lead when forward Jonathan Arledge (KIMA) tipped in an Edwards miss with 1 minute 33 seconds remaining. The Patriots limited Richmond to 34.8 percent shooting after halftime, including 1 of 8 from three-point range, and forced 19 turnovers.

It was a far cry from the first half, when the Spiders hit eight of their 11 attempts from three-point range and didn’t score a two-point basket for more than 15 minutes to begin the afternoon. Richmond took a nine-point lead into halftime with guard Darien Brothers (20 points, five rebounds) and forward Derrick Williams (14 points, seven assists) leading the charge.

But Hewitt made stopping those two a point of emphasis in the locker room, and his players heeded the message. Richmond’s duo combined for just eight points in the second half.

“I’m happy because there wasn’t a lot of panic at the half even though they were outplaying us,” Hewitt said.

But it was the moxie of Wright that ultimately allowed George Mason to escape on top in the first meeting between these in-state foes since 2001. Once Arledge gave the Patriots their first lead, Richmond guard Cedrick Lindsay (Gonzaga) quickly tied the score at 64 with an acrobatic floater in the lane with 19.8 seconds left.

Edwards, though, knew exactly who to feed when defenders swarmed him with the game on the line, and Wright, a fellow New Yorker, delivered right on cue.

“I’m confident in Sherrod all the time,” Edwards said with a smile. “Anybody from New York, I’m confident in.”