George Mason sends off senior class with 35-point A-10 win over La Salle
Mason (12-8, 8-6) shot a season-high 54 percent from the floor, posted its season-best regulation scoring total and defeated La Salle (9-15, 6-11) by 30+ points for the second time this season.
On Senior Day, Mason stalwarts AJ Wilson and Javon Greene combined for 31 points and 57.1 percent shooting, while all members of the team’s senior class saw action on the floor, including a start for Greg Calixte.
“We really defended in the first half and that got us going,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “I loved the way we shared the ball. There’s a lot of love that our guys have for each other. It’s an unselfish group and that showed today. When the ball moves like that, good stuff happens.”
Mason dished out an A-10 season best 21 assists on 34 made field goals in the contest.
Wilson led the Green & Gold with 16 points (7-12 FG), six rebounds and a game-high four blocks, while Greene tallied 15 points (5-9 FG, 4-7 3pt FG) three rebounds and three assists.
Freshman Tyler Kolek wrapped up his first A-10 regular season with 15 points (4-7 3pt FG) and three rebounds, while junior Jordan Millet tallied 13 points (6-10 FG), five rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block in 28 minutes.
Elsewhere, freshman Ronald Polite notched career bests in points (6) and assists (5), while fellow freshman Malik Henry tallied a personal-best five points, including a pair of electric dunks.
Defensively, Mason continued its strong play of late, holding the Explorers to 37.9 percent shooting and 22.7 percent from 3-point range. The Patriots now rank 75th nationally in defensive efficiency, allowing just 0.966 points/possession.
Mason hit seven of its first nine field goal attempts (3-5 3pt FG) to jump out to a 17-7 advantage. A jumper from Wilson extended the edge to 12 (21-9). After La Salle pulled within eight (21-13), Mason put together a 9-0 spurt, including a pair of triples from Kolek, to augment the lead to 19 (32-13) at the 5:51 mark. A dunk from Wilson increased the advantage to 24 (45-21) and Mason took that lead into the break (47-23).
The sizzling first half performance included Mason’s biggest halftime lead of the year and the team’s best field goal percentage in a half (.667, 18-27).
The Patriots keep their foot on the gas to open the second half, using a 9-0 spurt to build a 31-point lead (56-25) at the 16:37 mark. A lay-in from Bahaide Haidara pushed the lead to 31 (62-31), and the Patriots got it to 35 (74-39) with 7:11 to play.
Mason subbed out its scholarship seniors with four minutes to play and enjoyed contributions from the team’s three walk-on seniors – Jack Tempchin, Mehki McCray and Chance Konnor. McCray scored his first career bucket in his final home game, while Tempchin added a rebound and a steal.
In addition to the six seniors, Mason honored its senior manager, Will Boland, in a pre-game ceremony.
Mason now heads to Richmond, Va., to begin play in the A-10 Tournament. The Patriots have secured a first-round bye and will open the event Thursday in the second round. The bracket will be announced Monday evening after a trio of league games on March 1.