George Mason (10-18) at La Salle (14-14)
GAME NOTES: The La Salle Explorers will defend Tom Gola Arena for the final time this season as the George Mason Patriots visit the City of Brotherly Love for an Atlantic 10 Conference tilt.
The Patriots suffered their third loss in four games on Sunday as they fell, 66-58, to George Washington in the nation's capital. GMU is in second to last place in the A-10 race with its unimpressive 3-11 league record. Although coach Paul Hewitt's squad has won only three of its 11 true road tests, two of those decisions came in conference play. GMU will conclude its regular season at home on Saturday versus Duquesne.
Coach John Giannini's Explorers are riding a two-game winning streak into their home finale. La Salle edged Fordham, 64-62, in a thriller at Rose Hill Gym on Saturday to climb back to the .500 mark overall and improve to a 6-8 A-10 standing. The Explorers were tied with the Rams before senior guard Tyreek Duren put in a buzzer-beating layup off an inbounds play. La Salle will try to rise its 8-4 home record before its regular-season finale versus its crosstown rival Saint Joseph's on Sunday.
This will be the first meeting in history between the Patriots and La Salle.
GMU managed to take an early six-point lead over the Colonials on Sunday, but could not keep up as it was outscored at the free-throw line, 16-11, and allowed its opponent to net 19 second chance points. The Patriots were held to 37.9 percent shooting from the floor, including a 3-of-16 clip from beyond the arc in the loss. Sherrod Wright led the Patriots with 16 points, while Bryon Allen scored 14 points and Erik Copes grabbed 12 rebounds. Wright and Allen have been a dynamic duo throughout the campaign to combine for 31.2 ppg, but GMU's third-leading scorer is Patrick Holloway at 8.8 ppg. Jalen Jenkins provides 7.4 ppg and a team-best 6.1 rpg for the Patriots, who are averaging 70 ppg and allowing 72.3 ppg.
In the victory over Fordham, senior guard Sam Mills led the way for La Salle with 18 points, while Jerrell Wright tallied 14 points and nine rebounds. Tyrone Garland added 11 points and Duren rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points, which he accompanied with four assists. Duren has been the engine for the Explorers' offense with an average of 16.1 ppg in conference play. Duren also paces the team in assists (100), steals (46) and ranks second in the A-10 with 35.9 minutes per game. Garland has played very well alongside Duren in the backcourt as he is contributing 13 ppg and has dealt out 73 helpers. Mills needs just eight points to reach the 1,000-point mark for his career. Wright is the usual second option offensively, but junior center Steve Zack may be just as valuable considering he paces the conference with 9.7 rpg, which is a full board per tilt more than the league's second leading rebounder.
GMU has hit on 44.7 percent of its field-goal tries on the campaign, but the Patriots have done a terrible job of taking care of the basketball. GMU ranks 11th in the A-10 in turnover margin (-1.57) and is also last in assist-to- turnover ratio (0.8). La Salle's quick and experienced backcourt should be able to limit GMU's open looks and score some easy buckets off of miscues to help the Explorers to another decision.
GAME NOTES: The La Salle Explorers will defend Tom Gola Arena for the final
time this season as the George Mason Patriots visit the City of Brotherly Love
for an Atlantic 10 Conference tilt.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: Tom Gola Arena (3,400) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Television: NBC Sports Network. Home Record: GMU 6-7, La Salle 8-4. Away
Record: GMU 3-8, La Salle 3-8. Neutral Record: GMU 1-3, La Salle 3-2.
Conference Record: GMU 3-11, La Salle 6-8. Series Record: First-ever meeting.Game Date and Time
Thursday, March 6, 8 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
La Salle 68, George Mason 60