George Mason escaped with a win on senior night narrowly edging past Duquesne 63-62. It came down to the last possession but Mason was able to get the win and recover on a night where they had a tough time from 3-point range. They missed their first 16 or so attempts from there but were able to offset that with 18 points off turnovers. Overall it wasn’t a great came for the Patriots. There were a lot of bad possessions, lapses on defense, and bad shooting for most of the game. The effort didn’t seem great either and the early missed shots seemed to slowly eat away at their energy. Struggling for offense at times, freshmen Ian Boyd and Karmari Newman provided a lift but in the end only Otis Livingston II and Jalen Jenkins finished in double figures.
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George Mason fell to George Washington 83-74 yesterday and has now lost for the eighth straight time to the Colonials since joining the Atlantic 10. The Patriots are now losers of three straight and appear to limping into the conference tournament. Two weeks ago they were in the conversation of competing for a top four spot in the standings and now they are currently looking at an 8 seed if the tournament started today. Otis Livingston II had his least productive game of the season and was benched towards the end of this game, finishing with just two points and four turnovers. Turnovers were again an early issue for Mason and helped to derail an offense that was shooting over 55% on the day. Defensively Mason had the same problems they did against GW earlier in the season. They struggled to cover Yuta Watanabe and Tyler Cavanaugh as the Colonials did a great job exploiting mismatches. Frustrating to watch considering Mason has been the smaller team against essentially every team they’ve played this season but again failed to make adjustments to counter at all what GW was doing. If that had happened all season long Mason would be in the bottom of the A-10.
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So it now comes down to the fact that George Mason almost certainly needs to beat George Washington if they want to finish in the top half of the Atlantic 10 this year. The Colonials have won two straight while the Patriots have lost their last two with only three games remaining on the regular season. The Revolutionary Rivalry is alive! Well sort of. Mason desperately needs to bounce back and win at GW after two tough games against URI and Dayton. Perhaps the five day lay off between games will serve them well as their starters have been logging a ton of minutes towards the later half of this season. It certainly looked like they may have run out of gas against Dayton on Tuesday despite playing hard. But we’ve seen this team bounce back many times this year, especially on the road, and it’s no better time than now for that to happen again.
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Future George Mason Patriot and member of the 2017 recruiting class Goanar Mar, has been named a finalist for the 2017 Minnesota Mr. Basketball award. Quite the honor for the standout 6’7″ forward from DeLaSalle high school in Minneapolis. It will be interesting to see what Mar’s role is next season, at 6’7″ he helps to replace some of the size lost with Jalen Jenkins’ eligibility running out. You can see from highlights that he does well in transition and can step out and hit three-pointers. He may be more suited for the 3 spot instead of the 4 or 5. Perhaps they want him to come in this summer and put on muscle to fill more of the role that Jenkins had this season. Troy Temara looks like he’s being groomed to play the 5 next year and don’t forget AJ Wilson will be in the mix next year as well in the front court. It Mar cab bring his long range shooting and help cover opposing wing players, he will be a great asset to Mason right away. Regardless it will be great to have another forward in the mix, considering we already know we have plenty of guards that can play right now
George Mason missed a big opportunity for another quality road win on the season but lost the battle last night against Dayton. They were undone by turnovers as Dayton scored 29 points off Mason’s 17 turnovers. Marquise Moore and Jalen Jenkins didn’t have the big games we are used to seeing and Mason struggled offensively for the beginning of the game. They battled back and fought to grab a lead shortly in the second half by sticking to attacking the rim and out-rebounding the Flyers. Defense became an issue as Mason was sending Dayton to the free-throw line far too often and struggling to make shots themselves on the other end. Moore, Livingston, and Grayer were a combined 11-for-35 from the field, despite Grayer having a solid second half. Grayer finished with a career-high 13 rebounds and also added 13 points but it wasn’t enough. I would say it’s pretty difficult for Mason to win a game like this with Moore and Livingston only going to the free-throw line for seven combined attempts.
Positive takes from the game is that Mason didn’t quit and showed a lot of toughness. At one point Dayton went on a 20-0 run, which Mason then responded with a 13 point run of their own. They didn’t deviate from their game plan, something they will definitely need to remember in the Atlantic 10 tournament. Dayton did a great job defensively last night and didn’t let Marquise Moore get going. They fought Mason hard in the paint and didn’t give any easy baskets. Unlike most other opponents they did so without constantly fouling the Patriots and that took away a ton of opportunity last night. Dayton is the best team in the A-10 this year and the best team based on defensive efficiency. Having said that there were certain stretches during the second half where it looked like Mason had a chance to pull off the upset and I like that. But in the end this was another example of how Mason needs their top 4 guys to be efficient on offense each night collectively or else they don’t stand much of a chance against the league’s best.
Listen to Dave Paulsen talk about this season’s turnaround, going from Division III to Division I as a coach and more with former ESPN980 host Tim Murray:
George 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.
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George Mason was picked to finish 12th in the Atlantic 10 by the media back in October, fast forward four months and now they are fighting for a top four seed in the conference tournament. Kenpom now predicts Mason finishing the season 20-11 (10-8 in A-10), which is really an incredible turnaround in a such amount of time for Dave Paulsen and company. They came into this season with an undersized, mostly inexperienced roster, that lacked overall depth. None of that seemed to hurt them much during this season as we watch this team consistently out-rebound and beat teams in the paint while also having one of the most efficient offenses within the conference. With five games remaining on the season, a strong finish could go a long way for Mason in positioning themselves for post season action. Yes that’s right, post season play folks!
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George Mason is now fighting for position in the top of the A-10 standings after a blowout 93-70 win over Richmond last night. They have now beaten Richmond five straight times and have won 10 of 12 meetings against them. Marquise Moore picked up his 16th double-double on the season (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Jalen Jenkins scored 17 while joining Mason’s 1000-point career club. Freshman Karmari Newman who recently returned from a three game suspension, came in to provide a big lift off the bench, scoring a career-high 12 points. Mason overcame a turnover filled first half by controlling the game in the paint and at the free-throw line. They went 29-for-32 at the line while only allowing the Spiders eight total free-throw attempts. So here’s an update on that famous stat again, Mason is now 15-3 when they make at least 15 free-throw attempts in a game.
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First of all, great win and great atmosphere last night. Crowds like that is what George Mason basketball needs more often, it makes a difference. Last night’s victory moves Mason to 7-5 in the Atlantic 10 but it wasn’t easy as Fordham fought back late in the game. They were able to fight off the Rams’ late surge by sticking to their game and getting to the foul line. They dominated the boards with a huge effort from Jalen Jenkins who finished with 13 rebounds (8 offensive). Marquise Moore had another double-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists. Otis Livingston II led all scorers with 19 points and led Mason down the stretch going 8-for-8 at the free-throw line. Mason is now 14-3 when they make at least 15 free-throw attempts in a game. They had 25 attempts from there on the night compared to Fordham’s six. Certainly wasn’t the easy win many might have expected but Mason able to get a great win to help them stay in the top half of the conference standings.
Karmari Newman returned to the line-up and a gave off a spark on offense off the bench that the team has been missing the last few games. Defensively he also gave some good minutes along with Troy Temara. But once again it was the starters that paced the team with all but Jenkins playing over 30 minutes. Otis Livingston II continues to keep things rolling for Mason and he and Moore combined for 10 assists on the night.
The overall ball sharing continues to be excellent and has really progressed as the season has gone on. They fought through countless double-teams last night and still found the open man often. I really like the confidence we are seeing as it is translating into very efficient offense. That confidence will be put to the test in the coming weeks.
[Photos by Bill Bride]