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For George Mason, the Wright kind of ending to Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

Buzzer-beating 3 lifts Patriots over Spiders

RICHMOND -- George Mason has plenty of bad memories at Richmond Coliseum. When the Patriots return to the aging arena for the CAA tournament in March, however, they will have a sweet recollection of a buzzer-beating 3.

In the inaugural Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic on Saturday, Sherrod Wright's 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key swished through the net as time expired, completing a furious comeback in a 67-64 victory over Richmond.

In the first meeting between the teams since Richmond was a member of the CAA in 2001, George Mason rallied from a 12-point deficit in the final 7:10 with Wright (22 points) climaxing an 18-3 run with his clutch shot on a pass from sophomore point guard Corey Edwards (13 points, three assists).

"I'm confident in anybody from New York," Edwards, a graduate of Christ the King in Brooklyn, said of Wright, who played at Mount Vernon High in Westchester County.

With five seconds left, Edwards received the ball on an inbounds pass and drew a crowd as he worked off a ball screen. He passed to the tightly guarded Wright, who rose and fired, appearing to be fouled as he shot.

"Corey made a terrific pass, and Sherrod made a big-time shot," George Mason coach Paul Hewitt said. "This is a big, big win for our team."

The shot was reminiscent of George Mason's biggest moment last season, when Wright hit a 30-foot buzzer-beater in Fairfax to turn defeat into a 62-61 victory over Virginia Commonwealth. The Rams later got their revenge at Richmond Coliseum in the CAA semifinals, scoring the first 22 points in an overwhelming demonstration of pressure defense.

But Wright reversed the bad mojo Saturday.

"For us to come here, where we have a bad history and beat a great team like Richmond, it's truly good," Wright said. "We've had a bad time here, but hopefully this time [the CAA tournament] will be different."

It was an important victory for George Mason (7-4), especially considering how the Patriots had struggled in close games against quality teams, losing four times by single-digit margins.

The Patriots appeared destined for another frustrating defeat as they committed 17 turnovers, many unforced.

But George Mason won with defense, forcing 19 turnovers. After Richmond (9-4) hit eight of 11 3-pointers in the first half, the Patriots aggressively guarded the perimeter, limiting the Spiders to 1-for-8 shooting from beyond the arc in the second half. Then in the final 7:30, George Mason limited Richmond to one field goal.

"It happened because there wasn't a lot of panic at the half even though they were outplaying us," Hewitt said.

Junior forward Johnny Williams (six points, six rebounds) ignited the rally with a jumper. Three-pointers by Wright and freshman Patrick Holloway drew the Patriots closer. When junior Jonathan Arledge (seven points, eight rebounds) scored on a putback with 1:33 left, it gave George Mason its first lead at 63-62, setting the scene for Wright, who hit eight of 11 shots.

"Great team, great finish, big-time shot by a great player, Sherrod," Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. "He had a great game and is having a great season."

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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