Photo by Chris (@ByGeorgeMason)
With a young bench and lack of size, the George Mason Patriots were worn down by the Towson Tigers on a chilly Saturday night in Fairfax, Virginia. Using 22 points from Armaud William Adala Moto and 21 from Mike Morsell, the Tigers were able to hold off the Patriots 67-61 on Mason’s home opener.
Height was going to be factor coming in; Adala Moto (6’6”) and Morsell (6’5”) were two of their playmakers, not only on the inside, but the perimeter as well. Adalda Moto was 2-5 from long range, scoring two of the team’s three shots from behind the arc.
These were the same two players that torched the Patriots last season with a combined 37 points and 12 rebounds in a 75-54 drubbing.
This Saturday night they brought in a combined 15 rebounds out of the team’s 39. Mason only had 32 rebounds.
“We really felt that the key to beating Towson was to keep them off of the glass, which we weren’t able to do,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “Keeping them off of the foul line, we weren’t able to do that.”
With the lack of rebounding, that the team was used to from graduate Shevon Thompson, play became reliant on smart possessions. That quickly went out the window when Mason turned over the ball 17 times and missed 18 three point attempts.
Overall 35 empty possessions.
In the second half, Mason’s quick ball movement slowed down as players began to tire out. Four of the five starters played 28 minutes or more. Turnovers increased and players resorted to bad habits.
It did not make matters worse when the team went 9-15 at the free throw line in the second half and got into foul trouble, with 22 fouls on the night.
Despite the negatives, EagleBank Arena saw the raw talent of Jalen Jenkins burst back through. In 29 minutes, he went 9-11 with 19 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, all three led the team. Marquise Moore (13 points) performed well and showed he can have a killer instinct and drive to the basket. However, when the team needed him the most, he had fouled out of the game.
For the true freshman, three saw playing time with Justin Kier seeing the most, 24 minutes off of the bench with four points. Also coming into the game was Karmari Newman and Ian Boyd. They were half of the players that came off the bench (six) and together the bench scored a combined six points.
“Justin Kier and Ian Boyd weren’t quite ready to get the job done in that game but they’re pretty close,” Paulsen said. “We’re trying to do more nuances offensively, and when you get in pressure situations, fatigue situations, we reverted a little bit to less than a flow than we would like.”
Mason has hosted a season opener eight straight years but has dropped their last three. The team will look to turn things around on Tuesday as they host Division III school, Lebanon Valley.