Cody Norman, Staff Writer

The night was plagued by extremely poor free throw shooting and a stagnant offense, but outstanding defense down the stretch allowed the George Mason University men’s basketball team (17-12, 12-5) to outlast the Delaware Blue Hens (7-22, 3-14) on Wednesday night.

After trailing for much of the first half, the Patriots used a 9-0 second half run to upstage their Colonial Athletic Association opponent in a thrilling 61-59 victory.

Sophomore guard Andre Cornelius made four of seven 3-point attempts for 16 points, and junior guard Cam Long followed up with 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

Freshmen reserves Sherrod Wright and Luke Hancock continued their strong play and contributed a solid effort in the contest.

Wright shot a perfect 3-of-3 from the field to chip in 10 points in the winning effort. Hancock added nine points, four rebounds and four assists.

Despite shooting 55.6 percent in the first half, the Patriots trailed 38-32 at halftime after committing 10 turnovers. In the second half, Mason shot just 32 percent from the field and made 11-of-20 free throws, but ended up outscoring the Blue Hens 29-21 in the latter half.

The defense stepped up in the second half, stopping Blue Hens’ guard Jawan Carter, who scorched the Mason defense in the first half.

Carter eventually scored 25 points to lead all players, but the Patriots managed to contain him in the second half, especially in the closing seconds when Carter lost control of the ball.

Down 45-40 at the 15:16 mark in the second half, Mason used a 9-0 run to take a 49-45 lead as Wright drained a 3-pointer with 11:45 left in the game. After Carter made a basket to bring the Blue Hens within two points, Wright answered with another 3-pointer. With two more free throws, Wright’s eight-point consecutive streak extended Mason’s largest lead to seven points.

The Blue Hens, however, hung on as guard Alphonso Dawson made a layup to cut the lead to 56-54 with 5:13 left in regulation; guard Edwin Santiago, who scored 11 points off the bench, scorched the basket with a 3-pointer with 1:41 left.

Long made only one of two free throws for Mason to grant the Blue Hens a stay of execution, but the Blue Hens were not able to take advantage of the opportunity with a missed 3-pointer from Carter.

Wright had a chance to put the game away, but he was unable to make a free throw, keeping it a one-possession game.

Carter had one final shot, but he lost the ball as he drove to the hoop. The Patriots sealed the win and also guaranteed themselves a top four spot in the CAA Tournament.