George Mason outlasted by Cincinnati in Emerald Coast Classic
Mason trailed by just five (18-13) late in the first half, but Cincinnati extended its edge all the way to 21 (48-27) early in the second. The Patriots battled back with a 10-0 run and got back within 10 midway through the frame, but that’s as close as Mason would get, as the Bearcats locked down on defense to claim victory.
“We played hard, but our guys have to learn how to play hard but also be able to perform,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “That’s why you come to tournaments like this and play teams like Cincinnati. In a lot of stretches we did good things defensively. We just had some difficulty finishing over their size on offense. They’re a very good team.”
The Patriots trailed by nine (32-23) at the half, but started the second half 1-of-11 from the floor to help Cincinnati build its lead. The Green & Gold shot 70.5 percent (12-17) for the rest of the stanza, but the Bearcats made 15-of-26 attempts overall (.577) in the second half.
Sophomore Javon Greene led Mason with 11 points (4-8 FG) and helped hold UC star Jarron Cumberland to just 2-of-11 shooting on the night. Senior Otis Livingston II chipped in nine points, a game-high five assists and four steals in 29 minutes, while senior Jaire Grayer added eight points and a pair of 3-pointers.
The Bearcats held a +13 (33-20) edge on the glass in the game. Despite that number, Mason gave up just eight second chance points and was only -2 (30-28) in points in the paint. The Patriots dished out 12 assists and made eight steals on the night.
With UC up 7-6 early, the Bearcats used a 7-0 run to build a 14-6 advantage. Mason scored seven of the next 11 points to pull within five (18-13), but Cincinnati got it up to 10 (26-16) at the 5:01 mark of the stanza. Jarred Reuter scored for the Patriots with six seconds left in the half to make the deficit 32-23 at the break.
The Bearcats ramped up their defense in the second half, holding Mason to two field goals over the first eight minutes. During that stretch, the Patriots allowed just 10 points, but that drought helped UC increase its lead to 21 (48-27) at the 10:51 mark of the stanza.
From there, the Patriots found their offensive rhythm and began to mount a comeback. Mason used a 10-0 run – including a 3-pointer from Jamal Hartwell II and lay-in from Grayer – to push within 11 (48-37) with 7:49 to play in the game. Mason got it to 10 (49-39) on a Greene lay-in with 7:17 to go, but the Bearcats used a 9-1 spurt to build the lead back to 19 with 4:24 to play.
Mason will now play either Baylor or Ole Miss in the Emerald Coast Classic Saturday (Nov. 24) at 4 p.m. That game will be streamed on the Emerald Coast Classic website.