07 February, 2019

The Monday Morning Quarterback

George Mason Loses Second Straight Game in Richmond

February 7, 2019
Peter Solari, Editor in Chief  

After getting off to a hot start in league play, the George Mason men's basketball team has hit a snag.

The Patriots dropped their second straight game Virginia's capital, this time falling 81-67 to the University of Richmond at the Robins Center Wednesday night. The loss drops Mason to 13-10 on the season and 7-3 in the Atlantic 10.

This game wasn't so different from Mason's loss to VCU last Saturday night. For the second straight game, the Patriots failed to consistently defend against the 3-pointer, allowing the Spiders to shoot 47% from beyond the arc. Mason, on the other hand, once again struggled mightily from deep, converting on just 27% of their attempts from 3-point range.

“We ran into a buzzsaw tonight,” George Mason coach Dave Paulsen said. “Offensively, they present a lot of challenges.”

Despite their poor shooting and defensive inconsistencies, it was their carelessness with the ball that did the Patriots in. Mason turned the ball over a whopping 20 times in the game, leading to a 32-8 Richmond advantage in points off turnovers.

Unsurprisingly, the Patriots were playing catch-up most of the night. Here's more from George Mason University Athletics:
The Patriots jumped out to a 6-2 lead, but Richmond responded with an 8-0 run to build a 13-8 lead five minutes into the contest. Although Mason then tied it up at 13-13, Richmond kept their hot hand, hitting four 3-pointers over the next 7+ minutes. The Patriots meanwhile had trouble getting anything going offensively, going 1-of-7 from the floor for a stretch as the Spiders built an 11-point edge (30-19) at the 8:50 mark of the period.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Mason moved back within six (32-26) on a drive and finish from Miller and the Patriots trailed by seven (37-30) at the half. The Spiders jumped out to the lead at the break on the strength of a 52 percent shooting clip (13-25) and by forcing eight Mason turnovers. That led to a 12-2 edge in points off turnovers for the stanza.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Richmond extended its lead to 15 (54-39) at the 14:52 mark of the second half. The Spiders led by 12 (57-46) at the 12:28 mark of the second half, but from there Richmond put together a 12-2 spurt to push the lead over 20 (72-50) with 7:44 remaining.

Amazingly, the Patriots still had their chance to steal this game. Mason finally came alive and used a 15-0 run over the next four minutes to cut the Spiders' lead to 7 points with 3:43 left in the game, but it was too little, too late, and Richmond quickly pushed the lead back to double-digits.

Richmond was led by Jacob Gilyard's game-high 28 points. The sophomore guard also contributed 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Freshman Grant Golden had 17 points for the Spiders.

Senior Otis Livingston led the way for George Mason with 20 points, while freshman sensation Jordan Miller continued to impress, dropping 14 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. Redshirt junior Jarred Reuter added 8 points and 6 rebounds for the Patriots.

With the loss, Mason fell behind VCU and tumbled into a third place tie with Dayton in the Atlantic 10.

With their rocky start to the season, it was a given that Mason had to make quite a splash in league play if they had any hope playing in this year's NCAA Tournament. For a while, it looked like the Patriots had finally put it all together, and would be a force to be reckoned with in the A-10, but these last two games are cause for concern.

Defense is this team's bread-and-butter. They can get by with their streaky offense, so long as they're getting stops. When Mason isn't defending, bad things happen, as we saw in the team's recent swing through Richmond, VA.

Just when it looked like the Patriots had turned a corner, they've suddenly reverted back to their early-season form, and once again resemble a team that can't live up to the hype that was bestowed upon them.

Mason will be back in action this Sunday February 10th, when they'll host red-hot LaSalle, winners of five straight games, at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax. Tip-off is set for 2 PM ET.

#GetPatriotic #MasonNation #A10MBB #GMU #GeorgeMason #GoMason #BeAPatriot

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