Rhode Island picks up key A-10 road win at George Mason
Mason (13-8, 2-6 A-10) limited a strong rebounding URI squad to just four offensive boards and held a 41-36 edge on the glass. The Patriots also did a nice job defensively on URI stars Fatts Russell (15 points – averaging 19) and Cyril Langevine (6 points – averaging 10), but the Rams received outstanding contributions from Jeff Dowtin (20 points) and Tyrese Martin (18 points).
On the other side of the ball, the Patriots had difficulty getting shots to fall against URI’s top-35 defense, while making 2-of-19 attempts (.105) from 3-point range and putting together a 10-for-22 effort (.455) from the free throw line.
Despite the shooting woes, Mason ran good offense against the Rams (15-5, 7-1 A-10) and executed its game plan defensively. There will be positives to take heading into Saturday’s rematch with St. Bonaventure.
“You have to tip your hats to Rhode Island – that’s a really good team,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “Tyrese Martin hit some big shots and Dowtin was unstoppable down the stretch. I thought we really competed against one of the best rebounding teams in the league. We did a good job taking care of the ball, but you can’t go 2-for-19 from 3 and 10-for-22 from the foul line and expect to win. At one point we were down 12 and had missed 10 free throws.”
AJ Wilson led the Patriots with a career effort, tallying a personal best 23 points to go along with a team-high nine rebounds and two blocks. Wilson has scored at least 16 points in five of the past six games as he continues to take his all-around game to the next level. Against URI, Wilson made 10-of-15 field goal attempts and knocked down his only 3-pointer.
Sophomore Jordan Miller added 11 points and seven rebounds, while junior Greg Calixte put together a strong effort with eight points and six rebounds. Freshman Xavier Johnson tallied six points and dished out a career-best five assists in 34 minutes.
Rhode Island jumped out to a 14-6 advantage, but Mason cut it to four (16-12) on a jumper from Miller at the 11:16 mark of the first half. Rhode Island used an 11-2 spurt to extend the edge to 13 (27-14) and the Rams led 29-19 with 3:59 to go in the stanza. Rhody led by that margin (37-27) at the break.
Rhode Island extended the edge to 18 (46-28) at the 17:34 mark of the second half and led 53-36 with 15:21 to go. Mason cut it to 12 (53-41) and then 10 (59-49) on a 3-pointer from Jamal Hartwell II. A jumper from Miller at 10:31 pushed Mason within eight (59-51) and capped a 15-6 run for the Patriots.
But that’s as close as Mason would get, as Rhode Island re-gained control and closed the game out from there.
The Patriots now begin a three-game road swing with a Saturday contest at St. Bonaventure. Tip-off in Olean, N.Y., is scheduled for 4 p.m. The game will air live on Stadium and on MASN in the DMV.