George Mason-Drexel: Darryl Monroe Lay-up Propels Patriots Over Dragons

Chris BrooksCorrespondent IFebruary 18, 2009

George Mason trailed by three with 1:02 left in the second half, and their 14-game home winning streak hung in the balance. After a pair of Darryl Monroe free throws, Drexel missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Mason had one last chance to win the game.

Dre Smith drove inside, and Monroe picked up the loose ball and put it home for the game-winning score with seven seconds remaining as Mason (18-8, 11-5 CAA) defeated the Drexel Dragons (14-10, 10-6 CAA) 49-48 Wednesday night at the Patriot Center.

Monroe scored a game-high 15 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and was the lone Patriot to score in double figures. The senior shot 5-12 from the field and converted 5-8 from the charity stripe.

Both teams struggled from the floor. Drexel went up 7-0 in the first five minutes, but Mason closed the half with a 7-0 run to tie the score at 24 apiece.

The game went back and forth in the second half, and Drexel maintained the short lead throughout. Evan Niesler had a lay-up with 2:55 left in the game to put Drexel up 46-43.

The Patriots responded with a John Vaughan jumper to close the lead to one. Scott Rodgers extended the Dragons' lead again to three with a jumper with 1:02 remaining.

After Monroe hit his free throws and the go-ahead lay-up, Rodgers lost control of the ball with the seconds ticking away. Leon Spencer picked it up and the turnaround jumper was no good as the buzzer sounded, giving Mason the win.

The Patriots shot 34 percent (18-53) from the floor and shot a dismal 52 percent (11-21) from the charity stripe. Mason only converted two of 10 long balls and were outrebounded 40-34.

They scored 30 points in the paint to Drexel's 12 and only had nine turnovers to Drexel's 16. Mason also had 10 points off turnovers and converted 13 points on the second chance.

Drexel was led by Niesler with 14 points and 11 rebounds and Rodgers, who added 12.

Mason sits tied with Northeastern at 11-5 in the conference standings, and with one more win, the Patriots will clinch a first-round bye in the CAA Tournament (March 6-10).

Mason is 13-0 at home this season. They have won 15 straight home contests and 27 of 28 at the Patriot Center.

Mason heads to Omaha, Neb., this Saturday for ESPN's BracketBusters, when they will face the Missouri Valley's Creighton Bluejays. Mason lost the last two meetings with the Jays, by 20 in 2005 and by a single point in 2006.

Tip-off is set for 9:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.