George Mason overcomes shooting woes, defeats UMass
Mason (13-6, 2-4) shot just 38.3 percent for the game, but limited a solid offensive UMass bunch to just 38.9 percent (21-54).
That effort, coupled with a second-straight sublime performance from junior Javon Greene, powered Mason past the visiting Minutemen.
Greene led the Patriots with a game-high 32 points (9-17 FG) while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out two assists in 33 minutes. After a 39-point performance vs. Richmond Saturday, Greene is now averaging 35.5 points and shooting 61.5 percent (24-39) over the past two contests.
Trailing 40-31 with 13:37 to play, the Patriots outscored UMass 42-23 from there to claim victory in Fairfax.
“That was a great team win for our guys,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “They showed a ton of heart. We’ve been trying to preach all year that we’re built to win 52-50 or 82-50. It was an adventure out there offensively in the first half, but I liked that our guys really buckled down on defense and remained composed.”
In addition to Greene’s impressive showing, Mason received two big contributions from freshmen. Josh Oduro tallied a career-best 11 points (5-7 FG) and grabbed four rebounds while playing solid defense on UMass star Tre Mitchell.
Meanwhile, Xavier Johnson notched 11 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists in 37 minutes of work.
The Patriots controlled the glass with a +13 (45-32) advantage while limiting the Minutemen to just four offensive rebounds. Mason held a commanding 30-18 edge in points in the paint for the game.
Mason limited UMass to just one field goal in the first six minutes while jumping out to an 11-5 lead. The Patriots led 14-7 at the 9:03 mark, but the Minutemen used a 7-0 run to tie the game at 18-18. UMass took a 29-26 edge into the break.
The Minutemen built that 40-31 edge early in the second half, but four points from Greene and a big dunk from AJ Wilson pushed Mason within three at 40-37. Then, back-to-back 3-pointers by Jason Douglas-Stanley and Jordan Miller propelled the Patriots back on top 43-32 with 10:01 to play.
With the score tied at 47-47 with 7:03 left, Miller hit two free throws, Oduro converted two huge jumpers and Greene hit a driving lay-up to compile an 8-0 run and give Mason a 57-49 lead.
The Minutemen could not move closer than five for the remainder of the game and the Patriots got the lead to as high as 14 (72-58).
Mason now hits the road for a nationally-televised showdown with Davidson Saturday. Tip-off in the Tar Heel State is scheduled for 6 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.