Furious George Mason comeback falls short at Richmond

george masonGeorge Mason cut a 22-point deficit to just seven with under four minutes to play, but the Patriots could not complete the improbable comeback during an 81-67 setback at Richmond on Wednesday night.

Mason (13-10, 7-3) fell victim to the turnover bug, committing the most miscues (20) since a Nov. 13 game at Georgia Southern. Richmond pounced on the opportunities and turned those miscues into a 32-8 advantage in points off turnovers in the game.

That stat was the difference, in addition to Richmond’s excellent night behind the 3-point line, where the Spiders converted 10-of-21 opportunities (.476).

Mason trailed 72-50 with 7:44 to go, but raced back with a 15-0 run to cut it to seven (72-65) with 3:43 left. The Patriots had a chance to cut it to four or five with under three minutes left, but could not convert. The Spiders then got the lead back up to 11 (78-67) with a little over a minute remaining.

“Richmond played exceptionally well,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “That’s the worst we’ve defended in two months, and I’m not entirely certain why. This is the second consecutive game we’ve had good practices but haven’t been able to translate what we want to do on the court in game. We have to play the way we practice.”

Mason continued to shoot the ball well from inside the arc on Wednesday. The Patriots made 24-of-41 (.585) attempts from 2-point range but again struggled from three, where Mason made 4-of-15 (.267) shots. The Patriots were +8 (32-24) on the glass against the Spiders.

Senior guard Otis Livingston II led the Patriots with a team-high 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting (3-4 3pt FG). Freshman forward Jordan Miller impressed again, with 14 points (7-9 FG) and a team-high eight rebounds in 32 minutes on the floor. Miller is averaging 14 points and 9.5 rebounds over the past two games.

Redshirt-junior Jarred Reuter added eight points and six rebounds while junior Justin Kier dished out a game-high seven assists.

The Patriots jumped out to a 6-2 lead, but Richmond responded with an 8-0 run to build a 13-8 lead five minutes into the contest. Although Mason then tied it up at 13-13, Richmond kept their hot hand, hitting four 3-pointers over the next 7+ minutes. The Patriots meanwhile had trouble getting anything going offensively, going 1-of-7 from the floor for a stretch as the Spiders built an 11-point edge (30-19) at the 8:50 mark of the period.

Mason moved back within six (32-26) on a drive and finish from Miller and the Patriots trailed by seven (37-30) at the half. The Spiders jumped out to the lead at the break on the strength of a 52 percent shooting clip (13-25) and by forcing eight Mason turnovers. That led to a 12-2 edge in points off turnovers for the stanza.

Richmond extended its lead to 15 (54-39) at the 14:52 mark of the second half. The Spiders led by 12 (57-46) at the 12:28 mark of the half, but from there Richmond put together a 12-2 spurt to push the lead over 20 (72-50) with 7:44 remaining.

The Patriots began their comeback at that point, but after Mason cut it to seven, the Spiders rebounded and closed out the game.

Mason is back in Fairfax for a Sunday showdown with La Salle. Tip-off between the Patriots and Explorers is set for 2 p.m. The game will be televised regionally on Stadium.



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