George Mason matches best-ever start with win over JMU

george masonGeorge Mason improved to 4-0 with an 83-70 rivalry victory over former conference foe James Madison on Saturday night inside EagleBank Arena.

The Patriots struggled from the floor in the first half and played to a 34-34 tie with the Dukes at the break. But for the fourth time in as many games this season, the Green & Gold blitzed their opponent by shooting better than 50 percent in the second stanza. Mason shot 52.8 percent (19-36) in the second half and made 6-of-15 3-pointers (.400) in the period.

The Patriots led by five (71-66) with 4:42 to play, but closed the game on an impressive 12-4 run to secure the victory.

The 4-0 start matches Mason’s best-ever to begin a season. The Patriots also have been 4-0 in 2007-08 and 2013-14.

That sizzling second stanza helped propel the Patriots past the feisty Dukes, who shot just 33.3 percent for the game (24-72), but used a strong interior game to draw 16 fouls and turned that into a 15-of-18 performance at the line (.833).

Mason held the Dukes to a paltry 21.9 percent from 3-point range (7-32) for the game and is now holding foes to just 25 percent (26-104) from beyond the arc over the season’s first four games. Overall, Patriot opponents are shooting 38.1 percent (99-26), as Mason’s defensive-minded identity continues to take shape early in the season.

The Patriots were +5 (49-44) on the glass for the game and tallied a whopping 10 blocks, marking the most swats by a Mason team since a November 2017 contest against CSUN.

Sophomore point guard Jamal Hartwell II led the Green & Gold with 18 points in the contest to go along with four rebounds and two assists.

Junior Javon Greene added 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals, while sophomore Jordan Miller – despite playing just two first-half minutes due to foul trouble – tallied a key 12 points in the second half to go along with six rebounds and three assists.

Redshirt-junior AJ Wilson contributed an impressive all-around game with career highs in rebounds (12) and assists (4) to go along with five blocks and seven points. Wilson is averaging 4.5 blocks per game this season.

In all, eight Mason players scored at least seven points in the game, including Xavier Johnson (9 pts, 6 reb), Josh Oduro (8 pts, 6 reb) and Goanar Mar (9 pts, 4-7 FG), who hit a number of big baskets in the second half. Greg Calixte added six points and a career-best four blocks in 15 minutes.

Mason now wraps up its five-game homestand with a Tuesday night contest against Loyola (Md.). Tip-off between the Patriots and Greyhounds is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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