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Santa Clara (25-12) at George Mason (22-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, April 5, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Patriot Center (10,000) -- Fairfax, Virginia. Television: AXS.tv. CBI Record: Santa Clara 4-1, George Mason 4-1. Series Record: Santa Clara leads, 3-2.
GAME NOTES: The 2013 College Basketball Invitational title is on the line, as the Santa Clara Broncos and George Mason Patriots face off in game three of the final round on Friday night at the Patriot Center.
Santa Clara could have taken the best-of-three championship series on Wednesday, but wasn't able to follow up its 81-73 home win in the first game with a victory as it fell in a 73-66 final in Fairfax. The Broncos topped Vermont, Purdue and Wright State in the first three rounds of the tournament, and are looking for their second straight postseason championship after winning the CollegeInsider.com Tournament a year ago.
George Mason kept its season alive with its win on Wednesday, which improved its overall record to 22-15. The Patriots were in danger of failing to get to the 20-win plateau entering the postseason, but wins over the College of Charleston, Houston and Western Michigan in the first three rounds of the CBI got them to 20 wins for the third straight season, and fifth time in the last six years.
These two teams have now met five times previously with Santa Clara holding a slim 3-2 advantage.
The Broncos couldn't find the type of rhythm on offense they had on their home floor against the Patriots two nights ago, as they hit less than 40 percent from the field in both halves, and didn't do themselves any favors by sending the Patriots to the free throw line a whopping 43 times.
One of the primary issues Santa Clara faced on Wednesday was how Kevin Foster (19.1 ppg) came back to Earth. The senior guard had been scorching during the tournament with three straight games of at least 23 points, including two 30- point efforts, but he was held to just 16 points on 6-of-15 field goal efficiency on Wednesday night. Marc Trasolini (15.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg) is a strong contributor in the paint, and he had another solid effort in game two with 13 points and eight rebounds, while lead facilitator Evan Roquemore (11.8 ppg, 5.1 apg) took a step back after a 20-point showing in the first game by tallying only nine points on 2-of-13 shooting, as well as logging more turnovers (4) than he had assists (3).
The Patriots came out firing on all cylinders in front of their home fans after struggling in the opening contest of the series on the road. They hit 46.4 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes and also nailed 11-of-14 shots from the free-throw line to take a 39-26 lead at the break. They would then connect on 19-of-29 free-throw attempts after halftime to hold on for the win.
While Foster stumbled, it was Sherrod Wright (16.4 ppg) that got back to his normal level of production by netting a game-high 20 points. The junior guard has just three points in Monday's game-one loss and had compiled only 12 points in the two games prior to Wednesday's triumph. Wright has scored at least 20 points in three games during the Tournament. Jonathan Arledge (8.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg) was not needed to carry the offense on Wednesday after filling the role of primary scorer with Wright struggling. Arledge had a combined 44 points in the two tilts prior to game two, but slipped to just four points on Wednesday. Bryon Allen (8.3 ppg) dropped in 15 in the win for the Patriots, who feature nine players that average at least four points per game.
How Foster and Wright have played has been the deciding factor in each of the first two games of this series. Foster didn't look as comfortable away from home on Wednesday and may struggle once again. Wright benefited from 17 free- throw attempts on Wednesday, which may not be duplicated on Friday but if the Patriots can hold Foster at bay, they should end the season on a high note.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: George Mason 74, Santa Clara 69
04/05 10:37:12 ET