George Mason nearly stole one from Rhode Island on a warm Saturday afternoon in EagleBank Arena. Coming back from being down 18 points, the Patriots fell to the Rams 77-74 with a Jalen Jenkins full court heave being inches away from sending the game to overtime.
Completely changing the course of the game with a 21-3 second half run, the Patriots erased an insurmountable deficit in just over seven minutes of play. Leading the charge was Marquise Moore quietly recording his 17th double-double on the season. Finishing the contest with 19 points and 10 rebounds, he was the most consistent player on the court for Mason when the team’s shooting struggled at times.
It was a local talent though that doomed the Patriots.
Graduating from Paul VI Catholic High School just down the street, Stanford Robinson proved to be the difference maker for Rhode Island. Scoring a team-high 21 points off of the bench, including going a perfect 3-3 behind the arc, Robinson sparked the Rams when the interior of their offense struggled.
George Mason (18-9, 8-6) made it a priority once again to get the opposing post players in foul trouble. Quickly the team drew two fouls on Hassan Martin, limiting him to only 5 minutes in the first half. Although he would end up playing 18 minutes, Mason held Martin to only six points and one rebound. The league’s leading blocker was also only held to one block, after averaging nearly three a game.
LAST GAME: SPIDERS SWEPT BY PATRIOTS
Rhode Island (16-9, 9-5) though was able to beat the Patriots from all across the court. Every shooter became a threat with nine of the 11 Rams, who entered the game, scoring at least one point.
The team also killed Mason with 14 offensive rebounds that led to 13 second chance points. Sometimes the team had possessions with multiple offensive boards (three or even four at a time).
E.C. Matthews scored 18 points, 12 being in the first half, and was able to get the Rams back on track after Mason’s run. He was the only other Ram to reach double figures.
What kept the Patriots in this game though was drawing fouls (23 in the game) and their free throw shooting. Throughout the game, Mason made 31 of their 36 free throw attempts, with Jenkins (22 points) making 14 of them.
One thing that George Mason has properly executed in the last half of the season is getting opponents in foul trouble, hitting free throws, and keeping Jenkins out of foul trouble.
Jaire Grayer would be the only Patriot to hit a three pointer, finishing with 11 points, as the team was 3-13 from long range.
While the loss may be demoralizing at first, the momentum the Patriots gained from this comeback will be pivotal in making a run to end the season. Mason will still be in contention for one of the top four conference slots, but do not have a favorable schedule. Up next the team has Dayton on Tuesday, followed by George Washington, Duquesne, and VCU to end the season.