On a night where the backcourt guards were expected to dominate play, St. Bonaventure uses two unexpected heroes to knock off George Mason 82-72.
Forward, Denzel Gregg dominated the post at the Reilly Center on Saturday night, with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Taking advantage of Mason’s lack of height, he contributed to 18 of the team’s 36 points in the paint and went 6-7 from the free throw line.
Coming off of the bench for St. Bonaventure (10-5, 2-1), Nelson Kaputo, 13 points with three long range baskets, became a difference maker for the Bonnies. Prior to the contest, the guard only had three points on the season.
Kaputo’s productivity became a factor, when the Atlantic 10’s leading scorer, Jaylen Adams left the game after hitting the deck midway through the second half.
Before the injury, Adams was held to only seven points by the Patriots on 3-7 shooting.
LAST #JUMPBALL: Experienced Bonnies hold off young Minutemen
George Mason (10-5, 1-2) did not help themselves offensively with 15 turnovers, nine being in the first half. Unable to benefit from the Bonnies shooting defense, Mason only shot 42 percent in the contest.
Marquise Moore put out his ninth double-double of the season (19 points and 10 rebounds) but a majority of his production came late in the contest.
Taking charge of the foul contact on the court, Mason drew 23 fouls from St. Bonaventure. Not able to fully convert at the line, the team only made 22 of 32 attempts.
Limiting the play of Adams and Matt Mobley helped the Patriots stay in the contest in the first half when the most efficient offense in the conference looked to open up the game. Combined, Mobley and Adams finished with 15 points and 5-16 from the field. The rest of their teammates stepped up though going 25-51.
St. Bonaventure’s defense prevented Moore and Jalen Jenkins (12 points) from getting to the rim. Swarming the paint and utilizing a matchup zone, the Bonnies made Mason’s offense look lost, leading to the turnovers. Offensive rotations were limited and their passing was not on point until the second half.
Continuing his hot streak, Jaire Grayer (16 points) hit four three pointers for Mason and was one rebound away from a double-double for the second straight game.
This was a game the Patriots needed their long range game to get going, but with Otis Livingston II going 0-5, Grayer could not do it by himself. Livingston would finish the game 0-6 and seven points, all coming from the stripe.
Taking a blindside hit late in the game, Livingston had to head to the bench. It appeared the training staff was checking for signs of a concussion but the 5’11” guard returned to the game for the final minutes.
Losing in this fashion to a high-quality conference opponent shows that George Mason still has to improve on diversifying their game.
The team cannot limit themselves to only driving and forcing the ball down low.
Defensively, their height caught up to them again in a small lineup. In all three Atlantic 10 matchups, Mason has been out-rebounded. Tonight was no different for the Patriots as the Bonnies held a 39-36 edge.
Mason will head to Saint Joseph’s (8-6, 2-1) on Tuesday to wrap up this road stretch. It will be another pivotal game for two teams in the middle of the pack in the conference.