Strong defense can’t carry George Mason past Davidson in 61-56 defeat

george masonGeorge Mason played a superb defensive contest but simply could not hit shots Wednesday night, dropping its first A-10 contest to Davidson, 61-56, in EagleBank Arena.

Mason shot just 21.7 percent from the floor (5-23) in the first half as Davidson jumped out to a 23-17 lead at the break. The Wildcats moved ahead by as many as 15 in the second half, but the the Patriots, again, came alive late in the second half, as they have in their past three contests.

Mason moved as close as 48-47 with 7:31 remaining, but could not quite get over the hump, as Davidson made stops when it needed to to close out the game.

Despite holding the Wildcats to 36.7 percent overall (22-60) and 13.8 percent (4-29) from 3-point range, Mason was just 2-of-20 (.100) from deep for the game and 32.0 percent (16-50) overall.

“Obviously we really struggled offensively, but I thought we defended exceptionally well,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “Holding a team like Davidson to 61 points, it was a phenomenal effort.”

Justin Kier led Mason’s fight back against the Wildcats. Kier did it all to post his fifth double-double in the past six games. He led Mason in scoring (26 points, 6-12 FG) while grabbing a team-high 12 rebounds. The College Sports Madness A-10 Player of the Week also dished out a team-high four assists and made three steals while going a career-best 13-of-14 from the free throw line.

“I just tried to bring energy,” Kier said. “When we were down 15, we were down on ourselves. So our coaches just told me to lead and bring energy and I tried to do that to fuel the fire for everyone else.”

Javon Greene added seven points and eight rebounds for the Patriots. His points late in the game were crucial, including a 3-pointer to inch the Patriots within two points (58-56) of the Wildcats with 25 seconds left in play. It allowed Mason to have one final chance to tie the game with 12 seconds left down three (59-56), although the team could not convert that final opportunity.

The Patriots held a 43-36 edge in rebounding for the game and were +3 (13-10) in bench scoring.

Both teams faced difficulty scoring early. The Patriots shot 0-6 from 2-point range, while the Wildcats were 3-11 up to the 14:37 minute mark of the first half. Mason fought back from an early six-point deficit with three-straight baskets from Justin Kier, Ian Boyd and Greg Calixte to make it 8-8.

The Patriots took the lead at 14-13, but the Wildcats ended the half on a 14-3 run to take a 23-17 lead into the break.

While the lead changed five times in the first half, the Patriots shot 21.7 percent (5-23) from the field and the Wildcats were at 32.3 percent (10-31).

Davidson’s fast break offense extended their lead over Mason early in the second half. The Wildcats opened with a 7-2 run over the Patriots in under the first two minutes of second half play. Mason got into foul trouble early in the half, with three key players with three fouls. This led Mason utilize their bench in their comeback, as substitute players totaled 13 points in the contest.

Although Davidson advanced their largest lead of the game to 15 points at the 14:01 minute mark (42-27), Mason continued to fight back. Kier brought the Patriots alive through his offensive and defensive efforts. He scored 21 out of his 26 points in the second half.

A jumper by Livingston II, left Mason just two behind Davidson (48-46) with 7:31 remaining in the contest. Mason remained close but Davidson head a five-point lead (56-51) with 34 seconds to go. Mason had a chance on that last possession with under 12 seconds left, but Greene could not convert his 3-point attempt and Davidson held on for the win.

The Patriots now go on the road for their next two games. The first of these contests takes place in Kingston as Mason takes on Rhode Island on Sunday, January 13. The 5:30 p.m. game will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network.



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