George Mason soars past Saint Joseph’s, 85-60, in A-10 opener

george masonGeorge Mason put up 51 second-half points and outscored host Saint Joseph’s by 25 in the final stanza to pull off an 85-60 victory over the Hawks Thursday night in the A-10 opener for both teams.

The two teams played to a 34-34 halftime tie, before Mason (7-7, 1-0) shot 54.1 percent and made 8-of-12 3-pointers in the second half to blow the game open. Balanced with a strong all-around defensive effort, the Green & Gold put together an impressive 19-0 run late in the second stanza to seal the victory.

“That was a phenomenal team effort. I’m really proud of our guys,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “They struggled shooting the ball in the first half, but we emphasized to keep pounding the rock and to keep fighting and defending. Our defense was great all game and it was fun to see the ball finally go in. This team has worked so hard both in practice and outside of practice and it’s so nice to see it pay off.”

Mason limited the Hawks to 25 percent shooting (6-24) in the second half and a 34.6 percent clip overall in the contest.

Junior Justin Kier led the Green & Gold with 18 points and pulled down a career-best 14 rebounds in the win. The Grottoes, Va., product also dished out five assists and committed 0 turnovers in 35 minutes on the floor.

Senior guard Otis Livingston II scored 11 of his 17 points in the second half and dished out a game-high seven assists, while sophomore Goanar Mar provided a huge lift for the Patriots with 13 points (5-9 FG), five rebounds and three assists.

Last season’s buzzer beating hero in Philly – Ian Boyd – notched 15 points and hit three 3-pointers, and sophomore forward Greg Calixte chipped in a season-best 10 points (5-7) In 19 minutes off the bench.

On the defensive end of the floor, sophomore Javon Greene played outstanding defense on A-10 leading scorer Charlie Brown (5-13 FG, 1-6 3pt FG) all game while contributing seven points and 10 rebounds in 30 minutes.

Mason made 15-of-28 3-pointers (.536) overall in the game. The 15 3-pointers made are just one off the school record of 16 set in 1995 vs. Troy.

Mason held a 28-18 edge in points in the paint for the game and was +25 (30-5) in bench scoring after important contributions across the roster.

The Patriots rocketed out of the gate, hitting five of their first seven 3-pointers to build a 17-14 advantage before the first media timeout. Mason extended the lead to six (27-21) on a 3-pointer from Jamal Hartwell II at the 9:06 mark of the first half, but the Hawks moved back within one at 28-27 with 6:23 to go in the period. Saint Joseph’s took the lead at 32-31, but Mason evened the score up at halftime, 34-34.

Mason shot just 24 percent (5-21) from 2-point territory in the opening stanza, but made 7-of-16 3-pointers (.438) to keep the score tied at the break.

After an 0-for-12 stretch from the floor, Mason hit two straight field goals to go back up five (42-37), but the Hawks rallied back with a 9-2 spurt to take a 46-44 edge at the 14:38 mark of the second half.

From there, Mr. SportsCenter Ian Boyd took over. He hit a 3-pointer to put Mason back up four (51-47), then drilled another 3-pointer and was fouled. That 7-point stretch helped give the Patriots a 55-50 lead at the 11:34 mark, and it would keep growing.

With Mason up 57-54 at the 10:16 mark, the Patriots made that critical 19-0 run, including six points from Livingston II and five from Mar, to go up 76-54 with 4:02 remaining. The Patriots took their largest lead (85-58) with 1:18 to go in the contest.

With the victory, Mason has now won three straight contests at Hagan Arena.

The Patriots return to Fairfax for a two-game A-10 homestand. First up is St. Bonaventure on Sunday (Jan. 6) at 4 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network.


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