Momentum in the final minutes of Saturday’s matchup wasn’t enough for men’s basketball to overcome a mid-game lull against George Mason.
The Colonials (6–14, 2–5 A-10) stayed competitive with the Patriots (12–8, 7–1 A-10) through the first 20 minutes of play, but an abundance of turnovers in the second half allowed George Mason to gain control of the game and stave off GW’s attempt at a comeback. The Patriots eventually came away with a 62–55 victory.
The Colonials struggled from the floor, finishing the night shooting 36.8 percent from the field. The team finished the night with 18 turnovers, which head coach Maurice Joseph said was the biggest contributor to the loss.
“You turn the ball over that much against anybody, I don’t care if you’re playing the YMCA all-stars, you’re going to get beat,” Joseph said. “And we did too much.”
Although the Colonials limited George Mason’s leading scorer, junior guard Justin Kier, to 11 points on the night – other Patriots buoyed their scoring in the second half. Senior guard Otis Livingston dropped 15 points for the Patriots, and redshirt junior forward Jarred Reuter’s efforts in the paint earned him 10 points.
Sophomore guard Terry Nolan Jr. spearheaded GW’s offense, finishing the night with 15 points and nine rebounds, while redshirt junior guard DJ Williams and sophomore guard Justin Mazzulla each added 14 points. Under the rim, sophomore forward Javier Langarica anchored the team with 12 rebounds.
The Patriots’ shooting was ice cold to begin the night and George Mason went 0-for-7 from the field, which allowed GW to jump out to an 8–0 lead behind points from Nolan, Williams and Langarica.
But the Patriots edged their way back into competition with looks from the three-point line, scoring two of their first three baskets from beyond the arc. Two back-to-back wide open looks down low allowed the Patriots to take a 15–13 lead – their first of the game – with 8:19 left to play before the break.
The Colonials found success in the paint, where they scored 16 of their 25 first-half points. GW continued to shoot but mostly fell short, finishing 3-for-15 from the three-point line on the night.
George Mason improved to 37.9 percent from the field to close the half, but a Nolan layup pulled the team within two points of the Patriots’ lead 27–25 just before the buzzer. Nolan led the charge for GW in the first half with nine points.
No George Mason player tallied more than six points in the first half, but the team’s scoring was spread over seven players, while five GW players found the inside of the net.
The Colonials could not contain the Patriots’ offense into the second frame as George Mason surged ahead on a 9–0 run early in the half, thanks to turnovers by GW.
“Our turnovers fueled their transition, it fueled that run for them so we kind of shot ourselves in the foot in that regard,” Joseph said.
After giving up only five turnovers in the first half, misplaced passes added 13 turnovers to GW’s total and resulted in 14 free points for George Mason.
“We did not match their energy second half coming out,” Nolan said. “They came out more focused, more consistent, more energized and we came out really flat, so they got out to that big run.”
But the momentum began to swing in GW’s direction once again toward the end of the half when the team went on an 8–0 run capped by two Nolan free throws to lessen George Mason’s lead to 56–50.
The energy deflated soon after when sophomore guard Maceo Jack was called for an offensive foul with 38 seconds left before the final buzzer, sending the GW bench into hysterics and returning the ball to the Patriots’ hands.
Three missed free throws from Nolan down the stretch sealed the win for George Mason.
“Our guys never wavered, we stayed tough, we have a resilient group,” Joseph said. “I have some tough kids who never stop battling.”
The Colonials return to action at the Smith Center against Fordham Wednesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.