GAME NOTES: Saint Mary's tries to avoid a disastrous trip as the team closes out the Diamond Head Classic with a first-ever meeting against the George Mason Patriots at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Gaels landed in Honolulu with a perfect 9-0 record and assumed there would be even more victories to be had in Hawaii, but that hasn't been the case. Saint Mary's tipped off the event against a slumping South Carolina squad that entered the tournament on a three-game slide, yet the Gamecocks still managed to send SMC to a 78-71 setback nonetheless on Sunday.
A day later the Gaels were matched up against the host Rainbow Warriors and came up short in the final seconds of a 76-74 final on Monday night.
As for the Patriots, they too are in danger of leaving this event without a single victory. Winners of four straight games coming out of the chute, George Mason has stumbled to six defeats in the last seven games, bowing in four straight since topping Rhode Island. In addition to a loss to Iowa State in the first game of the tourney, the Patriots also suffered a 58-54 setback versus Oregon State on Monday.
In a game that featured 10 ties and four lead changes, George Mason actually held a one-point lead at the break against the Beavers two days ago, 29-28, but could not hold on. The Patriots suffered from the floor (9-of-29) in the second half and were just 3-of-12 beyond the arc. Bryon Allen managed to put up 15 points and Patrick Holloway 12 as the duo combined to shoot 10-of-18 from the field, which means the rest of the unit was a collective 11-of-36 from the floor.
Sherrod Wright, who came off the bench against OSU and scored a mere six points on 2-of-11 shooting, remains the leading scorer for the Patriots with his 14.1 ppg, although his 27.6 percent accuracy from 3-point range is still a concern. Allen (12.4 ppg) and Marko Gujanicic (10.3 ppg) try to lend a hand at the offensive end of the floor, but this is a team that is scoring only 65.3 ppg, while giving up 66.4 ppg.
The Gaels were led by Brad Waldow with 17 points and nine boards, followed by James Walker III with 16 points, Beau Levesque 14 and Kerry Carter 12 points in the losing cause. Stephen Holt accounted for nine points and a game-high eight assists. In the second half SMC, which made good on 54.5 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes, again shot the ball well from the floor at a 51.9 percent clip, but the squad missed out on a chance to take a one- point lead with 30.3 seconds to play when Levesque missed a free throw following a game-tying layup.
Waldow, the leading scorer in three straight games for the Gaels and five of the last six overall, checks in with 17.7 ppg as a 63.6 percent shooter from the floor. Unfortunately Waldow, who is also first on the glass for the program with 7.3 rpg, is shooting only 59.4 percent at the free-throw line. Holt (13.0 ppg), Walker (11.9 ppg) and Levesque (11.6 ppg) are all huge contributors to the team's 77.5 ppg, but the team has watched its scoring average dip considerably following the last two setbacks.
For the Gaels to end up with a three-game slide heading back to the mainland would be unthinkable. However, George Mason is far from a foe that can approach the level of talent on the SMC roster at this point.
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