Mason comes up short against Rhode Island

Screenshot 2017-02-19 07.51.39George Mason’s four game winning streak was snapped yesterday afternoon after a home loss to Rhode Island 77-74. Mason was down by as many as 18 points in this game and battled back in the second half only to lose in the games’ closing seconds. They dug themselves into a huge hole in the first half as URI went 7-for-11 on three-pointers during that period and had plenty of other open looks (see highlights below). The Rams, who were embarrassed in their last game against Fordham scoring only 43 points, looked to determined right from the tip against Mason. It looked like the Patriots had a tough time matching their energy until about mid-way through the second half. Dave Paulsen attested the team’s poor first half to a “rotten practice” prior to the game. Certainly didn’t help that Otis Livingston II and Jaire Grayer struggled mightily in the first half as Mason relied on seniors Marquise Moore and Jalen Jenkins to get things going early. When their top four doesn’t all start off great it can be an uphill battle for this team to¬†get going.

Mason struggled on three-point shooting as URI gave very few open looks. Grayer came back in the second hitting 3-of-4 three-pointers but no one else hit a three during the game. They technically won the rebounding battle but gave up a ton of offensive boards to URI early on. They broke their streak of winning games while making at least 15 free-throw attempts after going 31-for-36 from the stripe. Jalen Jenkins by himself went 14-for-17 from there reaching a game-high 22 points for Mason. They became too reliant on Moore and Jenkins and needed the supporting cast to do more. Otis went 2-for-13 from the field and tried to force too many shots late in the game. While Jenkins led the team scoring yesterday he had five costly turnovers that hurt Mason’s ability to start runs.

So they missed a chance to claim third place in the standings and now have a tough task playing at Dayton on Tuesday night. Despite this loss, it was nice to see that they didn’t just give up and did mount a comeback to erase that big deficit. No one can doubt this team’s effort each night but this could be another example of Mason needing a lot to go right for them in order to win big games like this.

[Photo via @rsuanes]

  • Masonfan01

    Rough game, similar to the VCU game were maybe the big game atmosphere got to their heads again. I loved the crowd though at EBA, it was really loud when they were erasing that 18 point deficit. Need to keep that up

  • Days of Yates

    Tough loss, but there was definitely a Burn Your Boats mentality in the second half. When we were way down I remember saying to the team (through this mental telepathy thing I have (; ) just play the game the way you know how, win or lose. It really was just a play or two that took the game away from us… Otis missing that wide open 3 late, refs calling a rebounding foul on Moore that had all the Mason players wince in unison when it was announced, that lack of composure traveling call Jenkins got…. I think Paulsen has done a tremendous job with these guys as far as work ethic (odd to hear about the poor practice), grit, cohesion and just improving their skills. One thing it seems to me though, is I don’t see great strategies with set plays coming out of time outs. It may not be his thing, and if so maybe he should delegate that bit of strategy to an assistant coach.

    • Chris Hirsch

      Noticed this as well. Wasn’t really pleased with the use of our timeout at the end of the game. We were able to use it in a meaningful way basically by a fluke after RI missed two free throws up 77-74, but then the play out of that timeout was dreadful.

  • Gamoo79

    We can beat Dayton, VCU, GW, and Duquesne, get a double bye in the tourney, make some noise there, and go into the NIT (or CBI) on a roll.
    Or…we can lose the last four, lose our first game in the tourney (again) and go home.

    I love the grit and determination of this team, but their margin of error is so small, I never know what to expect…except that they will give everything they have every game.
    That, I admire and applaud.

  • StopWearingPurple

    Despite the loss that was an amazing second half and the joint was jumping.

  • dsnjd1

    From the Schadenfrude department: a “Shaka Smart update”. The “Zulu” man is only 10-17 this year at Texas, the first with mostly payers he recruited. Texas, which cut lose THEIR Final Four coach former Mason head man Rick Barnes after the 2015 season has seemingly regressed under Shaka. Could Shaka be the latest former VCU coach to be canned by a big football school in the last few years (Anthony Grant, Alabama and Jeff Capel from Oklahoma)? So, if history repeats itself, I look for Will Wade to sign with to sign with a big football school next year and be fired about five years thereafter. Bet on it. (Oh’, and Shaka will probably end-up back at Florida as an assistant…)