George Mason falls at George Washington, 80-68

george masonGeorge Mason dropped an 80-68 contest at George Washington on Wednesday night inside the Smith Center.

GW used a big first half in which the home team shot 64.3 percent to build a 44-29 lead at the break. Mason held a + 3 (39-36) advantage in the second half, but could not move closer than seven in the game’s final minutes.

“I’m focused on our defensive effort tonight,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “We have to be able to sustain defensive energy and execution, especially if we want to win on the road. The last two games, we played well and shot the ball well. We derived our energy from our offense, but you can’t be a good team if you get your energy from your offense. The energy has to come from the defensive end of the floor.”

Four Mason players scored in double figures Wednesday, led by freshman Goanar Mar, who paced the Patriots with a team-high 17 points (5-7 FG) and tied a season high with a trio of 3-pointers. He also grabbed seven rebounds in 32 minutes.

Sophomore Justin Kier chipped in 13 points (6-9 FG) and two steals, while junior Jaire Grayer tallied his third double-double of the campaign with 11 points, 10 rebounds and dished out a career-best five assists. In addition, sophomore Ian Boyd tallied 10 points and two steals in 26 minutes.

GW’s Yuta Watanabe helped lead the Colonials to victory with a superb defensive effort against Otis Livingston II. Watanabe held Livingston II to just three points, matching a season-low for Mason’s talented junior.

Mason shot a solid 51 percent in the contest, but committed 18 miscues which led to a +12 (29-17) edge in points off turnovers for the Colonials. The home team also held a 14-0 edge in fastbreak points.

GW hit 10 of its first 15 shots to jump out to a 22-7 lead in the game’s first seven minutes. A sizzling stretch of seven-straight points from Boyd pushed Mason back within six (25-19) at the 7:50 mark. A 3-pointer from Javon Greene pulled the Patriots within one (29-28), but GW made a critical run from there, closing the stanza on a 15-1 spurt to take a 44-29 lead into the half.

Mason cut it to 10 (47-37) on a lay-in from Kier at the 18:28 mark, but GW went back up 13 (56-43) with 12:49 to play. A 3-pointer from Mar moved the Patriots back within eight (58-50) at the 9:26 mark, but after a sluggish few minutes of play by both teams, GW went back up 14 (66-52) with 3:07 to play.

Mason moved as close as seven (70-63) after a 3-point play from Mar with 1:14 to play but could not chip in further for the remainder of the contest.

Mason now heads west to battle upstart Duquesne on Saturday (Jan. 20) in Pittsburgh. The game will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network, with tip time scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

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