FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) - Mike Morrison scored 14 points and added 15 rebounds as George Mason knocked off Georgia State 61-58 on Saturday night in a battle for first place in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Vertrail Vaughns added 17 points, including three 3-pointers, as the Patriots (12-4, 4-0) snapped the Panthers' 11-game winning streak.
George Mason held Georgia State (11-4, 3-1) to just 22 of 36 (39.3 percent) from the field in a defensive struggle to win their fifth straight game.
The Panthers received 19 points from Jihad Ali, but it wasn't enough as the Patriots won a tightly contested affair that featured 10 ties and six lead changes.
With George Mason's leading scorer Ryan Pearson limited to 10 points on the night, the Patriots used tenacious defense, a superb effort from Morrison and clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch to win a key midseason conference game for sole possession of first place in the CAA.
The Panthers refused to go down easily as they took a 49-48 lead on a pair of free throws by Ali with 2:45 to play. The Patriots responded with two foul shots from Pearson and then a lay-in by Morrison to take back the lead for good.
George Mason closed the first half with a 13-2 run punctuated by a Morrison fastbreak dunk. Vaughns drained three 3-pointers, finishing the half with 11 points, and the Patriots held Georgia State scoreless for the final 3:50 to take a 31-23 lead to the break.
The Panthers battled their way back with an 8-0 run to open the second half and never trailed by more than seven points, but shot just 10 of 17 (58.8 percent) from the free-throw line, including several key misses with the game in reach.