Balanced offense leads George Mason past La Salle, 70-62

george-mason2Behind four players each with 13 points, the George Mason men’s basketball team opened Atlantic 10 Conference play with a 70-62 victory over La Salle Saturday night in the Patriot Center. The Patriots shot 66.7 percent in the second half to overcome a first half deficit and hand the Explorers their first road loss of the season.

La Salle came into the contest with an unblemished 4-0 mark in road games, fourth in the nation in true road wins. However, the Patriots proved too much for the Explorers who also entered the game with the league’s leading scorer, Jordan Price, who was limited to two points on 1-of-11 shooting. Price entered the game averaging 18.7 points per game.

Mason was led by four players with 13 points in Jalen Jenkins, Shevon Thompson, Isaiah Jackson and Patrick Holloway. Thompson led the Patriots on the glass with seven rebounds as Mason outrebounded La Salle, 32-22. Senior Corey Edwards earned his first start of the season and finished the game matching his career-high of seven assists to go along with five rebounds and three steals. Over the final four minutes, Mason went 9-for-12 from the free throw line to finish 20-of-29 overall. La Salle was 10-for-19 at the charity stripe.

Both teams shot over 50.0 percent in the first half that witnessed a combined 25 field goals and 18 turnovers between the teams. La Salle opened the game pulling out with a 6-1 lead before Mason pulled within one on four unanswered points for a 6-5 ballgame in the early going. The Explorers would lead by seven before Mason knotted the game at 17-apiece with 9:09 left to play using a 10-3 spurt. La Salle would pull away with a six-point lead thereafter, but Mason would tie it up once again at 27-27 before the Explorers finished the half with a layup from Cleon Roberts for a 34-31 halftime advantage.

Mason would take its first lead of the contest in the second half on a Jackson jumper at the 14:50 mark. The lead change sparked a second half that witnessed five tied scores and five lead changes before Mason took the final lead with 5:00 minutes to play using a Thompson jumper for a 59-58 advantage. La Salle would come within one point before Mason went 1-for-2 from the field and 8-for-10 from the charity stripe over the final three minutes to secure the win.

For the game, Mason shot 57.5 percent, recorded 12 assists, seven steals and 20 points off the bench to improve to 6-7 overall and 1-0 in A-10 play. With the loss, La Salle dropped to 8-6, 0-1. Jerrell Wright and Roberts led the Explorers each with 16 points while Steve Zack added 12.

Up next, the Patriots travel to Richmond for a 7 p.m. contest on Thursday to be aired on NBC Sports Network.