George Mason defeats James Madison behind 21 points from Livingston II

george masonLed by a strong defensive effort and outstanding shooting in the paint, George Mason collected an impressive 66-53 victory over James Madison on Friday night.

Guards Otis Livingston (21) and Justin Kier (16) led the Patriots in scoring, combining for a total of 37 points. Kier also tied a career high with 11 rebounds for his second career double-double to go along with a personal-best six steals.

The Patriots were able to hold the Dukes to just 32.1 percent from the field (18-56). Mason shot 38.1 percent from the field, scoring 40 of their 66 points in the paint.

Kier, a guard from Grottoes, Va., not far from JMU’s campus, also added a career-high two blocked shots and four assists to help Mason (5-6) win its third straight in its longest running rivalry. The teams were meeting for the 98th time and the Patriots have had the upperhand in recent memory, winning 22 of the last 24.

“Great effort by our guys. That is exactly what we have been looking for,” Mason head coach David Paulsen said. “That’s exactly what we know, what we’re capable of. We really defended at a high level against a really good team, against a really talented explosive offensive team, and we took care of the ball.”

In a game that featured nine lead changes and five ties, Mason took the lead for good when Livingston converted a three-point play with 15:53 left as part of a 10-2 run. The Patriots never looked back from there, holding a double-digit lead for most of the last eight minutes.

Livingston II scored 14 points in the second half and moved three spots to seventh on Mason’s all-time scoring charts with 1,582 career points.

Mason (5-6) turned the ball over 11 times compared to Madison’s 16, and were able to score 16 points off those turnovers. The Patriots outrebounded the Dukes defensively (31-28).

Mason also accumulated a season-high tying 11 steals, six of which came from Kier. He capped off a 10-3 run with a defensive rebound and raced down the floor for a layup with 4:32 left in the second half to push the lead to 56-44.

Despite JMU (7-5) maintaining the lead for most of the first half, the Patriots were able to get a three-point lead heading into the half following a layup by Kier. Coming into the second half, the script was completely flipped as Mason was able to maintain the lead for the rest of the game.

Mason struggled from beyond the arc and made just three 3-pointers but they were crucial to the victory, including a corner trey by Livingston with 8:33 left in the second half for a 10-point advantage.

Mason now takes a break for final exams, not returning to the court for another two weeks. The Patriots host Navy at 7 p.m. on Dec. 21 at EagleBank Arena on ESPN+.

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