VCU SUFFERS 71-58 SETBACK AT GEORGE MASON

FAIRFAX, Va. – George Mason used a pair of key first half runs, including a 10-2 stretch to close the period, and shot nearly 60 percent from the field in the second half on its way to a 71-58 victory against VCU Sunday afternoon at the Patriot Center.

The Rams (11-7, 4-3) couldn't overcome an 11-point halftime deficit, and George Mason (9-9, 3-4) had an answer for each VCU rally in the second stanza.  The Black & Gold hit 6 of 9 three-pointers in final 20 minutes but could only trim the deficit to nine twice the rest of the way.

Senior forward Courtney Hurt, who is just five points away from breaking VCU's all-time scoring record of 1,750 points, finished with a team-high 17.  Classmate Andrea Barbour added 15, junior Carleeda Green chipped in eight, and junior Robyn Hobson collected four points, five rebounds and a team-best four assists.  A season-high 10 different players scored for the Rams.

George Mason's Taleia Moton, who shot a school record 85.7 percent, hit 12 of 14 from the field on her way to a game-high 29 points.  Amber Easter finished with 20 and Janaa Pickard added 10.  Moton (17) and Easter (13) combined to score 30 of the Patriots' 36 points in the second half.

After VCU took its largest lead of the game at 16-13 with 11:41 showing, George Mason erupted for a 12-2 run and eventually built a 25-18 advantage less than four minutes later.

The Rams battled back with two straight baskets by Hurt and a fast break layup from Barbour, and quickly pulled within 25-24 with 6:06 to go.  But it was as close as VCU would get the rest of the game as the Patriots scored 10 of the final 12 points and took a 35-26 lead into the locker room. 

Moton and Pickard keyed a pair of first half runs for George Mason, combining to score 22 points, 15 of which came in the final eight minutes.    

The Patriots scored on three-straight possessions and extended their lead to 41-26 less than 1:30 into the second half.  Barbour then halted the George Mason run with back-to-back three's, which cut the deficit to nine with 17:42 showing.

However, the Patriots, who hit five of their first seven from the field in the second half, stayed hot on the offensive end, pushing their lead back to 15 less than two minutes later.

Five of VCU's first six field goals of the second half were from long range with Barbour and Green hitting two apiece, but the Rams could never recover as George Mason had an answer for each rally.

The loss snaps VCU's six-game winning streak against the Patriots.  George Mason also ended a nine game regular season losing skid against the Rams as VCU's last regular season loss at the Patriot Center came on Jan. 23, 2005.

VCU returns to the Verizon Wireless Arena for two straight home games, beginning with Drexel on Jan. 26.  Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.  The Rams then host Georgia State on Jan. 29.

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