Strong second half leads No. 18 VCU past George Mason, 70-62

george-mason2The George Mason men’s basketball team led at the halftime break, but No. 18 VCU outscored the Patriots 40-26 in the second half to take a 72-60 victory Wednesday night. Four Patriots reached double-figure scoring numbers for Mason led by Jalen Jenkins.

Jenkins pitched in 15 points for the Patriots followed by Patrick Holloway with 13 points in his first game back since January 17. Isaiah Jackson notched his first collegiate double-double behind 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Corey Edwards rounded out the quartet in double-figures with 11 points. Mason out-rebounded VCU 43-27 led by Shevon Thompson with 16 boards. The Patriots finished the game shooting 36.8 percent from the field (21-57) and 72.2 percent at the free throw line (13-18).

VCU outscored Mason in the paint, 32-20, and converted 18 Mason turnovers into 27 points. The Rams finished the game shooting 48.1 percent from the field (25-52) and was 16-for-25 at the charity stripe (64.0 percent). Melvin Johnson led the Rams with 17 points.

Mason played a hard-fought first half that had two lead changes and three tied scores including the 32-32 knot with 42 seconds left after a Justin Tillman layup. Thompson converted a pair of free throws to give Mason the two-point halftime advantage, 34-32. Mason led by as many as nine in the first half as Holloway recorded 10 points in the period.

JeQuan Lewis scored 11 points in the second half for VCU as the Rams used 11 Patriot turnovers in the period for half their points in the final stanza (20). VCU quickly knotted the game out of the break and took its first lead at the free throw line at the 16:20 mark. The Rams pushed their lead out to nine with 11:17 to go. Mason sliced the score to one-point using two triples from Edwards and a layup from Holloway, but the run was snapped by a Michael Gilmore triple. After trailing by 10, Mason cut its deficit to five points, but VCU held strong and reopened a double-digit lead, closing out the contest for a 12-point victory.

Mason begins a two-game road trip at Saint Joseph’s on Saturday. Tip is slated for 4 p.m. on MASN.

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