Redshirt freshman Jalen Jenkins posted his first career double-double in his first collegiate start, but it was not enough as the george mason men’s basketball team dropped a 71-57 decision at VCU to open Atlantic 10 Conference play Thursday night. Jenkins finished the night as one of three Patriots to reach double-figure scoring numbers.
Mason (7-8, 0-1 A-10) was led offensively by Bryon Allen with 13 points, followed by Patrick Holloway with 11 and Jenkins with 10. Jenkins led Mason on the glass with a team-best 12 rebounds as Erik Copes finished with 10 boards to lead Mason to a 45-43 edge on the glass. Mason went 9-of-16 from the free throw line, while VCU (13-3, 1-0 A-10) shot 71.8 percent at the charity stripe on a 28-for-39 efficiency.
Mason outscored the Rams in the paint, 34-28 as the teams worked through seven lead changes and six tied scores. The Patriots held the Rams at bay in the first half, coming out with a 4-0 lead before VCU got its first point from the charity stripe and first field goal at the 18:06 mark. Mason would lead by as many as five points on several occasions before the Rams grabbed their first lead on two free throws from Treveon Graham for a 21-20 score at 8:17. The Patriots would regain the lead twice the remainder of the half, but VCU would lead at the break by a narrow 35-34 margin.
Using an 11-2 run to open the second half, VCU took its first double-digit lead, 46-36, with 15:52 left. Mason responded with a 12-6 spurt to trim the score to 52-48 and work its way back to single-digits with eight minutes to play. In the final eight minutes, the Rams would outscore the Patriots 19-9 using a 13-for-20 effort at the charity stripe for the final 71-57 score. Mason shot just 15.4 percent from the field in the last eight minutes (2-13).
Graham led the Rams with 15 points, while Briante Weber added 12 to the board. Juvonte Reddic pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds as Graham secured 10.
Up next for the Patriots, Mason returns to the Patriot Center for its first home Atlantic 10 Conference contest onSaturday, January 11 against Saint Joseph’s. Tip is slated for 8 p.m. and will be televised on CBSSN.