George Mason drops 72-60 contest to VCU in Richmond
Mason trailed by just three (44-41) midway through the second half, but VCU rallied with an 8-0 run and remained in front by nine or more for the remainder of the game.
At 9-9 in the Atlantic 10, the Patriots will enter next week’s conference tournament as either the No. 7 or No. 8 seed, depending on Saturday’s results between Davidson-URI and Dayton-George Washington.
“Hats off to VCU, I thought they smothered us defensively and came out with an edge,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “They made it hard for us to get things going.”
The Patriots held a +6 (41-35) edge on the glass and limited the Rams to 16.7 percent (3-18) shooting from deep. But VCU turned their eight offensive boards into a 16-5 edge in second chance points and also held a 54-40 lead in points in the paint.
Offensively, Mason struggled to shoot in the first half (.370 FG%, 0-6 3pt FG), allowing the Rams to jump out to a 35-25 halftime lead. The Patriots rebounded to shoot 46.2 percent (12-26) in the second half.
Senior Marquise Moore led the Green & Gold with his 18th double-double of the season, tying him with 2016 NBA Draft pick Kahlil Felder (Oakland) for the third most double-doubles by a Div. I guard since the stat has been kept by the NCAA (2009-10). Moore tallied 17 points and 11 rebounds in 34 minutes vs. the Rams.
Moore is now up to 324 rebounds this season, which ranks sixth-most in single season program history.
Sophomore Otis Livingston II chipped in 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Jalen Jenkins added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Mason grabbed an early 4-2 lead, but a 5+ minute scoring drought from the Patriots allowed the Rams to build an 18-8 lead at the 10:35 mark of the first half. The Patriots moved back within six at 18-12, and after VCU went up 31-19, Mason got it back to within eight (31-23) with 2:28 left in the period.
VCU took a 35-25 advantage into the break.
The Rams went up 44-32 early in the second half, but Mason surged back with an 8-0 run to pull within three (44-41) with 13:28 to go in the game. VCU answered with an 8-0 run of its own to go back up 11 at 52-41. The Patriots would not move closer than nine for the remainder of the game.
“When we get a chance to reflect and look big picture, I think it’ll show we’ve had a tremendous regular season,” Paulsen said. “We’ve surpassed expectations. I think our guys should be proud of that. It hasn’t always been pretty, but we always have fought. We’ve made strides, but I don’t want to get caught up with that or moral victories/progress. We came out here to win today and we’re going to head to Pittsburgh to win every night we play.”
Mason travels to Pittsburgh for the A-10 Championship March 9-12 at PPG Paints Arena, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Depending on Saturday’s results, Mason will enter the tournament as either the No. 7 or No. 8 seed. The Patriots have clinched an opening round bye for the first time in program history and will open the event on Thursday, March 9 at either noon or 6 p.m.
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