George Mason finally got their first ever Atlantic 10 tournament victory last night in a hard fought battle over Fordham that went to overtime. They advance to face #2 VCU tonight at 6 pm. Hey just like old times in the CAA tournament! Otis Livingston II had an amazing pass underneath to Jalen Jenkins to force overtime as Mason battled back being down by as many as seven points with only seconds remaining. They had looked like they were out after Marquise Moore missed two big free-throws late but they stayed calm and never stopped fighting.
— Ryan Kish (@gmuhoops) March 10, 2017
In overtime Mason looked like a different team and never looked back after taking the lead and riding their own momentum. They went 6-for-8 in the extra period with some great shooting from Jaire Grayer and Justin Kier. Here is Kier’s three-pointer that was the dagger:
Marquise Moore had a monster game scoring 25 points and grabbing 19 rebounds (1 shy of the school record). He got to the free-throw line for 10 attempts as well, something they will need to keep doing in order to make it to Saturday in this tournament. As a team they dominated the glass and went 27-for-32 from the free-throw line. This helped them overcome some bad early shooting, especially from three-point range.
Couple of takeaways from last night:
-Mason went basically only six deep with only Ian Boyd playing more than eight minutes off the bench. We’ve seen them have success with a short rotation, especially when Jenkins is not in foul trouble, and it helped them fight back. However, against VCU tonight they won’t have that luxury. They’ve struggled mightily against VCU’s front line this season and guys like Temara and Relvao will have to see minutes. Will that hurt the rest of the offense if they start off cold shooting again?
-The turnovers are still a recurring an issue that has been plaguing this team for weeks. We all know how VCU can feast off them so they need to find a way to curb this. Jenkins really needs to protect the ball better tonight.
-Three-point shooting can not continue to be this bad if they want to not lose to VCU for the third time this season. The Rams have done a great job fighting Mason in the paint for points and winning the small battles there. They are a terrible match-up for Mason’s lineup. They just can’t dominate the lane and rim against them like they do against other teams. VCU is also good at keeping Mason off the free-throw line so the points are going to have to come from three-pointers. Let’s hope they continue some of the hot shooting we saw in overtime against Fordham. They are going to focus on slowing down Moore again, other guys have got to step up and make shots.
-It will be interesting to see how Dave Paulsen approaches VCU on defense. They focused heavily on Mo Alie-Cox in their last game against them and that left Justin Tillman to run wild and dominate. Their switches and rotations on defense weren’t great against Fordham so hopefully that is a point of emphasis in practice before tonight’s game. They tried to use Jenkins and Boyd in the post to muscle them out and didn’t have much success. I don’t know what else they can try to do but Paulsen better have something up his sleeve.