Marquise Moore did not have his typical game for George Mason on Saturday afternoon. He did not lead the team in scoring and was not on a path for a double-double until the final seconds of the game.
Still Moore showed why he is the leader of the Patriots.
With Mason only up three and 30 seconds remaining, Moore sat at the top of the key starring down a Massachusetts defender. A lead that had been built to 13 was nearly gone. Nine seconds left on the shot clock, Moore initiated the play driving effortlessly to the basket and for a lay-in off the backboard to put Mason up by five points.
Free throws would go on to close out the game and UMass would miss a buzzer-beating three point basket for Mason to hold on 76-74 in the Mullins Center.
Getting his stroke back was Otis Livingston II who led Mason with 22 points going seven of 14 from the field. Coming into this contest shooting 31 percent in Atlantic 10 play, Livingston was going through one of the toughest stretches of his career. Throughout the game, he was the team’s go-to scorer with Moore being shut down.
Joining Livingston in getting a hot hand was Jaire Grayer who struggled in three straight contests with a combined 9-32 from the field. Today Grayer had 12 points on 4-9 shooting including two big threes early in the contest.
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George Mason’s (14-7-4-4) other starters had a balanced attack to combat the dominant guard play of the Minutemen. Four players in total finished in double figures, with Jalen Jenkins avoiding foul trouble for his third double-double on the season (15 points, 12 rebounds). Moore would also add 10 points, all being in the second half.
Massachusetts (12-10, 2-7) attempted to break out of their two game losing streak and adjusted their lineup against Mason. Junior Dante Clark came off of the bench after starting every game this season and freshman Dejon Jarreau was benched early.
Clark would lead the team in scoring with 13 and Jarreau would have a team-high six assists. It was freshman Tyrn Flowers through off the bench that was able to keep the Minutemen in the contest late.
Three big three pointers in the closing minutes allowed UMass to stay close in a game Mason had led nearly the entire duration.
Aside from Flowers, Mason allowed the Minutemen to stay in the contest with their own poor play in the second half. At the line Mason was only 14-22 and the bench only produced 10 points. Yet on the road, Mason found a way to hang on again.
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Winning their sixth road contest in only seven attempts, the Patriots have found that the road is where their offense is able to pick up the pace in the opening half. Shooting 71 percent from long range and 51 percent total in the first half, Mason built an advantage they were able to hang on to late.
A reoccurring theme this year, Mason appears to only be able to play a good 20 minutes instead of a full game. This is not a strong output for a team that wants to compete against the top teams in the league.
The win keeps Mason in contention with the middle of the pack in the conference and clinches the season series against Massachusetts.