FAIRFAX, VA (SBU Press Release) - St. Bonaventure played a nearly perfect second half to grab an 85-73 win at George Mason on Saturday. It was the Bonnies' second straight road win.
Matthew Wright scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half, and Jordan Gathers added 18 points to power the win. The Bonnies went 32-36 at the free throw line on the day, including 24-28 in the second half.
How It Happened:
The teams went back-and-forth in a first half that included six ties and five lead changes.
George Mason, which won its last two games including an upset at UMass on Wednesday, took a 16-13 lead on a traditional three-point play by Sherrod Wright at the 11:24 mark.
Dion Wright came off the bench to give the Bonnies a needed spark. He made his first five shots and scored 10 points in the first half on a variety of moves close to the basket.
After a Bryon Allen layup, the Patriots led 29-26 with 3:29 until the break, but the Bonnies scored the final seven points of the first half to take a 33-29 lead. Jordan Gathers started the run with a three-pointer, Andell Cumberbatch scored on a dunk after a steal and Gathers scored again on a drive with 32 seconds left.
Mason tied the game at 34 early in the second half, but the Marquise Simmons scored consecutive buckets to put St. Bonaventure right back in front.
After being held to five points in the first half, Matthew Wright came alive in the second half. George Mason had gone up 46-44 at the 12:04 mark but Youssou Ndoye tied the game on a dunk set up by a pass from Gathers. Wright then scored the next seven points of the game – a three-pointer in the middle of four free throws – that gave the Bonnies a 53-46 lead with 9:32 left.
Charlon Kloof drove and was fouled to make it 58-49 with 8:17 remaining as the Bonnies continued to build the lead.
George Mason cut the lead to six but Matthew Wright and Cumberbatch hit two free throws each to put the Bonnies ahead 66-56 with 5:38 to go.
Gathers sank a three-pointer as the shot clock was expiring to make it 71-58 with 3:58 left; he then was fouled and made two free throws to give the Bonnies a 15-point cushion.
From there, the lead never dipped below 10 points as the Bonnies made eight out of 10 at the free throw line over the last 2:04.
Matthew Wright was 4-7 from the field and 9-10 at the line in the second half. His 24 point performance was all the more impressive considering he was cut below his right eye in the first half after an accidental elbow from teammate Marquise Simmons; Wright received two stitches after the game.
After committing four turnovers in the first four minutes of the game, St. Bonaventure had only five the rest of the game. Kloof, while playing only 23 minutes due to foul trouble, had five assists and no turnovers. Gathers had three assists and just two turnovers in 34 minutes.
Playing on a sprained left ankle, Youssou Ndoye was strong with 12 points, six rebounds and four blocks; his presence disrupted Mason's drives to the basket and help limit Mason's starting post players to seven points.
Dion Wright finished with 15 points – one shy of his A-10 career high.
Beyond the Box Score:
Gathers' 18 points tied his best scoring game ever against an A-10 opponent. He had not scored in double figures since the George Washington game Jan. 18.
The Bonnies went 12-26 from the field in the first half and 12-25 in the second, shooting 47 percent on the night.
Saturday's game was the first between the schools since George Mason joined the A-10 this year. It was the fourth meeting all-time; the Patriots defeated the Bonnies in both 2003 and 2004.
The last time St. Bonaventure won back-to-back Atlantic 10 road games was January 2013 when the Bonnies knocked off Saint Joseph's and Temple in the same week.
Up Next: The Bonnies will return home to play Duquesne on Wednesday at the Reilly Center. Tipoff will be 7:00.