George Mason drops 63-56 contest to Saint Louis

george masonGeorge Mason (12-6, 2-3) could not overcome a poor shooting first half Saturday afternoon en route to a 63-56 setback to Saint Louis inside EagleBank Arena.

The Patriots trailed by 13 (31-18) at the break after shooting 22.7 percent from the floor. Mason made up the deficit quickly and led 54-52 with 3:54 to play. However, the Billikens responded with an 11-0 run to close the game and escape with the victory.

The Patriots shot 51.7 percent (15-29) in the second half and held a +8 (19-11) edge on the glass, but Mason missed its final five shots and could not get over the hump down the stretch.

“You have to give credit to Saint Louis. They wanted the game more than we did, they played harder than we did, they were tougher than we were and they hit some big shots. On our end, this was our worst performance of the season. The lack of energy and focus in the first half was extremely disappointing. We’re going to get back to work and restore some vulnerabilities in our culture that surfaced tonight.”

Sophomore Jaire Grayer led the Patriots with 16 points and made 5-of-8 3-point field goals, while senior Marquise Moore put forth his third-straight double-double and 11th of the year. The Queens, N.Y., product tallied 13 points and game highs in rebounds (16) and assists (5).

Redshirt-senior Jalen Jenkins added nine points and six rebounds while sophomore Otis Livingston II chipped in eight points and four assists.

The Patriots committed only 11 turnovers, but Saint Louis made the most of the opportunities while grabbing a +14 (20-6) edge in points off turnovers. The Billikens made just seven miscues while tying a season high with nine 3-pointers made.

Mason scored four of the game’s first five points, but Saint Louis rattled off 13 of the next 14 to build a 14-5 edge at the 11:50 mark. The Billikens extended the lead to 12 (24-12) on a 3-pointer with 5:33 to play in the period and led by 13 (31-18) at the break.

The Patriots quickly bounced back to open the second stanza, using a 13-3 run to pull within three (34-31) at the 15:05 mark of the period. The Patriots tied it up at 42-42 on a lay-in from Ian Boyd with 10:36 to go and after going down by 3 (52-49), tied it once again on a 3-pointer from Grayer with 4:43 left.

A lay-in from Jenkins with 3:54 to go briefly gave Mason the lead (54-52), but Saint Louis scored the next 11 points to put the game out of reach.

The Patriots now take an 8-day competitive hiatus before returning to action next Sunday (Jan. 22) at Richmond. Tip-off on the American Sports Network is set for 1 p.m.

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