George Mason closes out 76-69 win at Davidson

george masonA pair of senior leaders made huge plays down the stretch to propel George Mason (16-8, 6-5) past Davidson (12-10, 5-6) Wednesday night inside Belk Arena.

Senior Jalen Jenkins finished with 23 points (9-13 FG) and made a number of key buckets down the stretch, while fellow senior Marquise Moore tallied his 14th double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Moore put up five critical points in the final two minutes to propel the Patriots to victory.

“This was a great team victory,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “Our guys played exceptionally well, especially in the first half. If you’re going to win on the road against a quality team like Davidson, you have to do the things we did – make your free throws, limit free throws and make big plays at the end of the game. A number of our guys made those critical plays to help us get this win.”

The Patriots shot 53.3 percent (16-30) in the second half and held a +8 (41-33) edge overall on the glass for the game. Mason also committed just eight turnovers and forced 10 Davidson miscues. The Patriots held a 14-5 edge in points off turnovers and 11-3 advantage in second chance points for the game.

The Patriots scored the first six points of the game and led 9-3 after a 3-pointer from Moore. Davidson came back to tie it at nine, then proceeded to take their first lead (20-19) at the 8:52 mark of the first half.

Back-to-back triples from Jaire Grayer pushed Mason back up five (25-20) and the Patriots led by that margin (31-26) with 2:38 to play in the half. Mason took a 31-29 lead into the break.

The Wildcats cut the Mason lead to two on four occasions early in the second half but could not push ahead. From there, Mason used a 7-2 spurt to push ahead by seven (51-44) at the 12:05 mark of the stanza.

Davidson stormed back with a 7-0 run to tie it up at 51-51, but Mason used a 6-0 spurt to move ahead 57-51. Davidson scored five in a row to re-take the lead at 63-59 with 5:05 to go.

On the very next play, Jenkins converted a lay-in, then Grayer stole the ensuing inbounds pass and banked home a jumper to tie the game at 63.

Two-straight critical buckets from Jenkins pushed Mason ahead 67-63, and after Davidson cut it to two (67-65), Moore hit back to back huge buckets. First, he nailed a 3-pointer to make it 70-65. Then, after Davidson scored, Moore hit an elbow jumper to put the Pats up 72-67.

The Wildcats would not move closer than seven for the remander of the game.

Mason begins a three-game homestand Saturday (Feb. 11) when the Patriots host Fordham on Homecoming Weekend. Tip-off on the American Sports Network is set for 6 p.m.

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