George Mason can’t sustain hot start, falls to Belmont in DC Paradise Jam

George MasonGeorge Mason led by 14 midway through the first half, but Belmont rallied to take the lead at the break, then took control in the final 20 minutes on its way to a 77-67 win Friday in the DC Paradise Jam.

Playing without Preseason All-A-10 Third Team selection AJ Wilson (ankle) on a 13-hour turnaround, the Patriots rocketed out of the gate and led by 14 (34-20) midway through the first half.

Belmont utilized a 16-0 run to enter halftime up by one (41-40), and then took advantage of a tough-shooting second half by the Patriots.

Mason now will regroup and wrap up the DC Paradise Jam on Saturday at 3 p.m. vs. Howard.

“We played exceptionally well for the first 13 minutes – we had energy, emotion and excitement, but we still have to play disciplined basketball,” Mason coach Dave Paulsen said. “We went for the home run and took some poor shots late in the first half and lost our edge defensively. You’re going to have tough shooting performances like we did, and we just need to keep getting better.”

The Patriots were at their best when attacking and converted an impressive 70.3 percent (16-of-27) of their two-point attempts. But Mason struggled from beyond the arc (2-of-23, 8.7 percent) and could not hit key shots which would’ve given the Patriots a chance to win the game down the stretch.

Mason used its three-quarter court press effectively, registering a whopping 14 steals while forcing 19 Belmont turnovers. But the Bruins turned Mason over 11 times in the second half and shot 52.8 percent (28-of-53) for the game.

Junior Jordan Miller led Mason with a game-high 19 points (8-15 FG) and nine rebounds while tying a career best with four steals. Sophomore forward Josh Oduro added 12 points (6-10 FG), five rebounds and a career-best three steals, while senior Javon Greene tallied 11 points, five rebounds and four steals.

Mason’s game vs. Howard Saturday will tip at 3 p.m. and air live on ESPN3.


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