Redshirt senior guard Armel Potter cut around George Mason’s defense and to the rim Saturday, giving men’s basketball its first lead of the second half. The Patriots responded with a game-tying jumper, but junior guard Maceo Jack fired a laser from deep, giving the Colonials an edge they held to the buzzer.
The Colonials (11-14, 5-7 A-10) topped the Patriots (14-11, 3-9 A-10) 73–67 for the second time this year, completing the season sweep. Potter and Jack led the charge, netting a combined 39 points and firing at a combined 16-of-24 clip.
“There’s no question that Armel Potter helps us find that balance,” head coach Jamion Christian said. “He just gives us a cool calmness on the floor that allows our guys to fit into their roles at the highest level. That helps give us balance right there.”
Potter returned to the starting lineup for the first time in three games after sustaining a lower-body injury in the squad’s quadruple overtime victory against Davidson. He led the floor with 20 points, eight assists and a team-leading six rebounds to end the day.
George Mason controlled the pace for the first nine minutes of the half. The Patriots netted four points to start the contest before Jack put the Colonials on the board with his first triple. Freshman forward Josh Oduro responded with two consecutive buckets to bump the Patriots’ lead back to four.
Potter snapped a seven-point George Mason run with a layup inside the 13-minute mark. Jack then hit another three to bring the Colonials within one possession. He gave GW its first lead of the game after nabbing a steal, nailing the fast break layup and completing the and-one play from the charity stripe.
Jack tallied 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 shooting from deep.
“I stayed present in the moment,” Jack said. “I got some nice shots and my teammates did a great job of finding me and making plays for me, and I just made sure I was ready to shoot and knock down the next shot.”
The Colonials finished the half on a 10-4 run to pull within two points of the Patriots, entering the locker room with George Mason up 30–28. The Patriots dominated in second-chance points, netting 13 points off second attempts. The Colonials remained scoreless in the category.
Freshman forward Jamison Battle struck first for the Colonials in the second half, knotting the game at 30. Potter and Jack combined to bump GW to a lead it never gave up about two minutes into the frame.
After Oduro cut the lead to one possession, senior forward Arnaldo Toro ripped an offensive board, muscled his way through the paint and hit the layup in traffic. He was fouled and nailed the free throw to put the Colonials up by five.
George Mason didn’t quit, responding to every GW bucket with a bucket of its own. Freshman guard Xavier Johnson heated up in the second half, scoring all 17 points in the frame to lead the Patriots’ in scoring.
On a baseline inbounds play, freshman guard Jameer Nelson Jr. received the alley-oop pass and slammed it through the hoop to push the lead back to six points. On the next play, he stole the ball and went for another dunk but was fouled in the process. He hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe. Nelson Jr. finished with 16 points and a floor-leading four steals.
The Colonials upped the lead to nine points with less than four minutes to play, but in the final 3:39, George Mason made a run at the lead and outscored the Colonials 14-11.
“The whole second half we continued to stay positive,” Potter said. “When they went on their runs we did a quick reset, we do it every huddle, and we just kept our heads up and kept going.”
The Patriots outrebounded the Colonials 34-26, with the Colonials collecting just nine rebounds in the first half. A pair of guards in Potter and freshman Jameer Nelson Jr. led the team on the offensive glass, nabbing five boards, respectively. Toro collected half of GW’s offensive rebounds, nabbing three boards off the glass.
The Colonials fired at a .400 clip from three, banging in 6-of-15 attempts. From the field, the squad connected on 26-of-51. But in the final six minutes, the Colonials went to the line 10 times and sunk eight free throws.
GW came away with the 73–67 victory, snapping a three-game skid.
“We didn’t think the last three games were indicative to how good our team was, but it was indicative to how good we were on that day,” Christian said. “And so we just want to take it in stride.”
The Colonials are back in action Wednesday at Duquesne. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m.