FAIRFAX, Va. – Jonathan Arledge scored a career-high 23 points to lead George Mason past Western Michigan 62-52 on Wednesday night in the semifinals of the College Basketball Invitational.
The Patriots (21-14) will face Santa Clara in a best-of-three championship series beginning on Monday.
David Brown had 13 points and Shayne Whittington added 12 for Western Michigan (22-13), which committed 23 turnovers and shot just 35 percent from the field.
"It wasn't the prettiest effort, but I'm happy that we were able to grind out a win," George Mason coach Paul Hewitt said. "For the first time in this event, we looked dead-legged out there. That can happen this time of the year. But again, just happy to get our 21st win of the season."
George Mason used an 18-0 run to take a 26-17 lead with 3:37 remaining in the first half. The Broncos went 9:01 without scoring, missing all seven field-goal attempts and committing eight turnovers during the stretch.
However, George Mason's own shooting woes allowed Western Michigan to hang around in the second half and the Broncos pulled to 47-40 on a dunk by Whittington with 5:27 remaining.
The Patriots scored the next seven points to increase the lead to 14 with about 4 minutes to go, and put the game away on a breakaway dunk by Arledge with 36 seconds remaining.
George Mason shot just 37 percent from the field and missed 14 of its 16 3-point attempts.
Arledge, who shot 7 for 11 from the field and hit all eight of his foul shots, has scored in double-figures in 10 of his last 15 games after doing so just once in George Mason's first 20 games.
"He's playing really well," Hewitt said. "He knows what I'm going to say when I look at the stat sheet. I know the points are there, but there's still more. But he's playing very, very well right now."