Men’s basketball’s regular season ended with a fizzle.
The Colonials (8-23, 4-14 A-10) played a game of catch up from the first minute of their final regular season game against George Mason, allowing the Patriots (17-14, 11-7 A-10) to walk away with an 81–65 win at the Smith Center Saturday afternoon.
The Colonials matched the Patriots with 15 field goals and 39 points in the second half, but GW could not climb out of a 16-point hole from the first frame.
The Patriots dominated from the three-point line, going 11-for-22 from the perimeter while holding GW to 2-for-16 shooting from the same spot.
“I got to give credit where credit is due, they stepped up and they knocked down shots,” head coach Maurice Joseph said. “They did a great job of finding guys and knocking down shots and we didn’t do a good enough job keying in on certain guys.”
Junior guard Justin Williams put together a career-best performance despite the loss, going 7-for-10 from the floor to tally 18 points while grabbing five rebounds.
The Colonials were without sophomore guard Terry Nolan Jr, who exited GW’s game against Fordham Wednesday with a heel injury, according to an athletic department spokesman.
The Patriots opened the day going 6-for-8 from the field to take a fast 14–4 lead in the first four minutes. GW was 2-for-4 from the floor in the same span and had already given up two turnovers.
The threes were not falling for GW in the first half, but the team attacked the rim early and picked up 10 of its first 12 points of the game off backdoor cuts fed by passes from the free throw line. Both teams entered the break with 18 points in the paint, and 42 of GW’s 65 points originated in the paint at the end of the day.
“When we weren’t getting good shots, we were getting our feet in the paint and getting to the free throw line,” Joseph said.
With GW down 14–4, Williams entered the game with 16:08 left in the half and provided a much-needed spark for the Colonials coming off the bench. Williams went 3-for-3 from the floor while tacking on two free throws to pick up eight points, one steal and two rebounds in his first five minutes of action. Williams’ play helped the Colonials cut the Patriots’ lead to seven points 19–12 with 11:03 left before the break.
A three-point shot by redshirt junior guard Armel Potter got the Colonials within seven points of the lead again 23–16 with 7:32 left in the half. But the Patriots embarked on a 10-4 punctuated with a three by George Mason freshman guard Jamal Hartwell II to put the Patriots up 33–20 with 3:42 left in the half.
At the half, George Mason was up 42–26 on 15-for-30 from the field while shooting 5-for-11 from the perimeter. GW was shooting 37.0 percent on 10-for-27 shooting from the field and 1-for-7 from the perimeter. Williams led GW with 10 points at the break.
George Mason freshman guard Jordan Miller led the floor with 14 points at the half. He ended the game with 17 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting night while going 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.
“Miller’s energy hurt us, obviously,” Joseph said. “He had a monster game.”
The Colonials were able to pull together stretches of solid play during the game, especially in the second half, but could not generate enough momentum for a comeback.
“We had a stretch where we’re just playing hard, trying to switch up the defense to switch up the style of play and that was working for a little bit,” Williams said. “But our intensity lowered so it was our fault.”
The Colonials came out of the second locker room on a 6-2 run courtesy of sophomore forward Javier Langarica and Potter before the Patriots came back with four unanswered points to take back the 16-point lead.
A 9-0 run by GW over the span of one minute and 52 seconds in the middle of the frame put the Colonials within 11 points of the Patriots 58–47 with 10:27 left in the game. But back-to-back threes from the Patriots pushed them ahead 17 points.
The Patriots’ lead ballooned to 22 points putting them at 81–59 with three minutes in the game before GW closed out the day with a six-point run.
The Colonials return to action in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Championship in Brooklyn, N.Y. Wednesday.