George Mason drops cross-DMV contest to George Washington, 73-67
Kier re-fractured his foot Tuesday in practice and will have surgery to repair the injury. Just a day later, Mason returned to action and struggled from the floor, shooting 38.1 percent, including a 29.4 percent clip from 3-point range (5-17).
On the other end of the floor, GW – which entered the game shooting 32 percent from 3-point range for the season – made 47.1 percent (8-17) of their attempts. The Colonials shot 49 percent overall (24-49) for the game.
Although Mason had already played without Kier for seven games this season, the next few days will be about getting back on track and adapting to competition without the stalwart senior and 2019 A-10 Most Improved Player.
“You can see how GW has been progressing while playing three of the best teams of the league incredibly close,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “We have to do better and reinvent ourselves once again. That’s going to be a work in progress but we can’t panic and have to be resolved to get better. Each guy has to be a little more solid. That’s what we need to do in the absence of Justin.”
Redshirt-junior forward AJ Wilson continued his torrid pace of late to lead the Patriots Wednesday. The Laurel, Md., product tallied his third double-double of 2019-20 while notching 18 points and 11 rebounds. Wilson – who entered the game third nationally in blocked shots – swatted five attempts against the Colonials.
Wilson’s effort epitomized how the team wants to compete in honor of Kier moving forward.
“Justin is like a brother to us,” redshirt-junior AJ Wilson said. “But he told us not to feel sorry for him. He told us to play the way we’ve been playing and use it as fire to play for him.”
Sophomore Jordan Miller added 12 points (2-3 3pt FG) and six rebounds in 36 minutes, while Javon Greene tallied 11 points, four rebounds and four steals.
Mason held a +5 (38-33) edge on the glass for the game and turned 15 offensive rebounds into a 12-5 edge in second chance points for the contest.
GW jumped out to a 10-4 advantage, but Mason responded with a 6-0 spurt – capped by a Greene 3-pointer – to tie it up at 10-10. A triple from Miller made it 16-13 Patriots, and Mason went up by five (23-18) at the 6:23 mark of the stanza. The Patriots led GW 25-20 with 5:08 to play in the half, but Mason could manage just one more field goal for the remainder of the stanza as the Colonials used a 10-2 spurt to take a 33-27 edge into halftime.
Mason quickly cut it to four (33-29) to start the second half and trailed by five (42-37) at the 16:14 mark of the stanza. A trio of difficult 3-pointers by GW’s Jamison Battle helped the GW extend the edge to 10 (49-39) and that lead grew to 14 (56-42) with 11:06 remaining.
The Patriots got it back to seven (60-53) on a 3-pointer from Jamal Hartwell II and trailed by that margin (68-61) with 2:24 remaining. But Mason could not get stops on the next two possessions as the Colonials held on for the victory.
Mason returns to EagleBank Arena for a Saturday (Jan. 18) contest against Richmond. The 2:30 p.m. contest will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network.