Team Profile: Charleston 85, George Mason 83
This was a matchup of two teams trending in opposite directions. In one of the more entertaining games of the BracketBuster weekend, Charleston came away with a tough 85-83 road victory for its sixth win out of seven. George Mason, loser of five of six, must rebound and finish the last week of the conference season strong.
The Patriots (16-12) had no answer for the Cougars (19-9) backcourt of Andrew Goudelock and Tony White Jr., as White led all scorers with 25 points, shooting 7-for-10 from the field. Goudelock, Charleston’s leading scorer for the season, was held under his season average (19.2 ppg), but still chipped in 15 points.
The first half was a back and forth affair, with the largest lead being six points. George Mason entered the break with a 43-40 advantage behind nine points from forward Ryan Pearson. However, Pearson was largely ineffective in the second half after a sprained ankle limited him to only four second-half points.
Charleston used a 15-6 run to start the 2nd half and stayed ahead for good. The Cougars used their speed and quickness on the perimeter to penetrate, get good looks at the basket, or get to the foul line. Each team shot 50% from the field, but free throws were the key in the game as Charleston hit 14 of 19 (74%) while George Mason only hit 18 of 31 (58%).
The Patriots had one last chance for the victory. With the score 83-81 at the nine-second mark, George Mason forced a Charleston turnover. Pearson took the inbounds pass, attacked the basket and scored, but the Cougars’ Jeremy Simmons stood strong and took the charge. Simmons had 18 points and 13 rebounds, but his biggest play of the night came on the defensive end. After two White free throws, Charleston clinched the victory.
NCAA Tournament Implications: Each team will have to win its conference tournament to make it the NCAA Tournament. George Mason must regain their confidence and get ready for the tough CAA Tournament. The Patriots have beaten Old Dominion and they get Northeastern at home on Saturday to finish the regular season. With a great coach in Jim Larranaga and a healthy Pearson, the Patriots are always dangerous.
Bobby Cremins has to be extremely pleased as his Charleston squad is hitting its stride entering the Southern Conference Tournament. You would have to consider the Cougars as the favorite to take the automatic bid, but they face a tough challenge at Wofford on Thursday in a matchup of the two best SoCon teams.
After watching Charleston, the team’s scoring balance is impressive. Goudelock is a bigtime scorer and with contributions from White and Simmons, Charleston (currently 14-seed) could give a high-major fits in the first round of the Big Dance.