RICHMOND — Drexel may have come up short in its bid to rally from a 15-point second-half deficit in Saturday’s 60-54 loss to George Mason in the quarterfinals of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament.
But before exiting stage left at Richmond Coliseum, the fifth-seeded Dragons, known for a rugged and physical style of play befitting the name of their coach, Bruiser Flint, seemed to extract a pound of flesh from the fourth-seeded Patriots, who earned a berth in Sunday’s semifinals against top seed Northeastern (19-11).
“Whenever you’re competing like that, especially when you’re playing a Drexel team that’s extremely physical, it takes its toll,’’ said NU coach Bill Coen, whose team swept George Mason in the regular season by a combined 30 points, including a 71-51 romp at Matthews Arena Jan. 27.
“But I thought George Mason was probably the deepest team in the league,’’ said Coen, who scouted the quarterfinal from press row. “They played all year long with a deep bench and if there’s one team that can survive that physicality, it’s George Mason.’’
Sherrod Wright willed the Patriots (18-13) to victory by scoring 18 of his team-high 23 points in the second half. Frantz Massenat led the Dragons (13-18) with 20 points, 13 in the second half.
“I just told myself that I had to be aggressive,’’ said Wright, who scored 7 points in a 10-4 run early in the second half that gave the Patriots a 37-27 lead. “After the first half, it was just about being aggressive out there, because they play very physical and very hard. It was a great game. They made us battle.’’
Vertrail Vaughns gave the Patriots a whopping 44-29 lead when he made the first of two foul shots with 11:36 left.
Massenat scored 13 points in a 20-9 run that enabled Drexel to pull within 53-49. Damion Lee (11 points) made it a 2-point game, 56-54, when he knocked down a trey from the top of the key with 1:22 left.
After both teams missed 3-pointers, Wright went to the line and knocked down both foul shots to give the Patriots a 58-54 edge.
George Mason will play Northeastern on Sunday at 2.
“They’re a good team — a very, very good team,’’ George Mason coach Paul Hewitt said. “We felt like we had stretches in both [regular-season meetings] where we played well and, obviously, we had some stretches where we played some pretty miserable basketball.
“Our last game, it was a 5-point game before they came back and won by a 20-point margin. We can’t afford that and I don’t think we’ll do it this time.”
Delaware 62, Hofstra 57 — The second-seeded Blue Hens (19-13) took care of the No. 7 Pride (7-25) behind Devon Saddler’s 22 points.
James Madison 72, William & Mary 67 — A.J. Davis and Devon Moore each scored 20 points for the third-seeded Dukes (18-14).