Story courtesy of WMU Sports Information
George Mason 62, Western Michigan 52
FAIRFAX, Va. - The Western Michigan men's basketball team got off to a hot start, but the Broncos ran out of steam against the homestanding George Mason Patriots, falling 62-52 in the semifinal round of the College Basketball Invitational presented by Buick. With the loss, the Broncos' season ends at 22-13, the best wins mark for the team since they won 26 games during the 2003-04 season. The team's advance to the semifinals of the CBI represents the most postseason wins for the team in a single season in program history.
David Brown wrapped his junior campaign with another high-scoring effort off the bench, netting 13 points, while Shayne Whittington contributed 12 points and a game-high-tying seven rebounds. Also reaching that mark was Brandon Pokley, who concluded his Bronco career with a 10-point, seven-rebound effort.
The Broncos were on fire to start the first half, as they built a big lead on the Patriots and tried to take the crowd out of the equation. Western Michigan opened on a 5-2 run when Nate Hutcheson made a runner to tie the score at one basket apiece; Austin Richie gave the Broncos their first lead when he drained a three-pointer late in the shot clock from the left corner at the 18:16 mark to make it 5-2.
Richie was there to break another tie later in the half, burying yet another three-pointer in the late shot clock situation. The sophomore guard ran off a screen and made a bomb from the right wing to make it 9-6 with 14:40 to play in the first half. Brandon Pokley made a pull-up jumper to stretch the lead to five points, and Connar Tava gave the Broncos a 15-8 lead when he spun around his defender and the perimeter and drove the lane, laying the ball with 12:54 remaining in the half.
Pokley gave the Broncos their largest lead of the half two minutes later with another pull-up jumper, this one from the right side, and made it 17-8 with 11:23 left to go in the half. The Broncos would suffer through a long drought, though, as the Patriots chipped away and eventually took a lead. WMU was held without a basket for just over nine minutes of play, not breaking the drought until Tava took an inlet pass from A.J. Avery and laying it in at the 2:22 mark. By that point, though, the Patriots had completed an 18-0 run and had taken the lead. George Mason entered the locker room at half with a 27-20 advantage.
The Patriots continued to build their advantage in the second half, taking their first double-digit lead of the night when Jonathan Arledge opened the period with a three-pointer from the right wing, making it 30-20. The Patriots' lead reached as many as 14 points in the second half, when Marko Gujanicic made a jumper at the 4:02 mark off a kickout pass from Sherrod Wright.
WMU cut the lead to single digits late in the half, with Brown scoring six points in the final minute to cut the lead to 60-52, but the Patriots held on and took the victory.