GAME NOTES: The George Mason Patriots will try to put an end to a three-game slide today, as they tangle with the Oregon State Beavers in the semifinal round of the annual Diamond Head Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Patriots arrived in Honolulu having lost two straight and four of the last five outings, and unfortunately the team was pitted against an undefeated and 17th-ranked Iowa State squad that secured a 79-67 win in the opening round of the event on Sunday.
As for the Beavers, they arrived in the islands riding a three-game win streak, but that all came to an end on Sunday when the team was somewhat surprised by Akron in an 83-71 final. During the three-game win streak, OSU allowed no more than 67 points.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between these two schools on the basketball court.
The Patriots shot a respectable 44.8 percent from the field on Sunday afternoon, including 8-of-20 beyond the arc, but the team could not avoid being outscored by undefeated Iowa State at the charity stripe, 22-7, making all the difference in the 12-point decision. Patrick Holloway came off the bench to tally 19 points, shooting 5-of-9 beyond the arc in 25 minutes, while the only other player in double figures was Bryon Allen with 14 points, adding four of the unit's 10 assists as well.
Although he did not score in double figures on Sunday, Sherrod Wright is still the leading scorer through 10 games for the Patriots with his 14.9 ppg. However, Wright's 30.8 percent accuracy behind the 3-point line is rather lacking, as is his willingness to get teammates involved in the action at the offensive end of the floor with just his six assists and 26 turnovers. Allen (12.1 ppg) tries to pick up the slack with his team-best 34 dishes, but still the team is averaging just 10 assists per game, while turning the ball over 14.9 times per contest.
The Beavers were paced by Roberto Nelson with 20 points, but while he made good on all but one of his 11 free-throw attempts, he shot a mere 4-of-15 from the floor in the loss to Akron on Sunday night. Devon Collier pitched in with 10 points and five rebounds in the setback. The Beavers, who fell behind 10-0 in the opening minutes, finished the meeting with 43.8 percent accuracy from the floor overall and 27-of-32 (.844) shooting at the free-throw line, but the squad was outscored behind the 3-point line by a 30-6 margin.
Not only did the Beavers lose a game on Sunday, they also suffered a major blow to the roster when Angus Brandt went down with what appeared to be a knee injury early in the second half. Early reports have Brandt, who missed most of last season after tearing the ACL in his right knee, to be getting an MRI in the near future and for now he appears to be unavailable for this particular game at the very least. Brandt is one of three players scoring in double figures with his 12.0 ppg, trailing Nelson (21.9 ppg) and Collier (19.9 ppg). With the center out of action, that puts even more pressure on Collier who is already the leading rebounder with nine per contest.
A change in the paint could be a big issue for the Beavers, although they still have two of the more talented players in the Pac-12 Conference in Nelson and Collier who should be able to carry them, at least in this game.
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