(Amy Rose, Fourth Estate)
Kaleel Weatherly and Ben Criswell, staff writers
In the first Revolutionary Rivalry match of the season, Mason’s men’s basketball team fell to the George Washington Colonials 76-70 at EagleBank Arena Sunday afternoon.
In the first quarter, neither team got off to a fast start. Mason shot nine for 34 from the field, while George Washington was nine for 35. Neither team was able to hit many three-point shots during the first half, as the Patriots and Colonials both went three for 10 from beyond the arc.
On the defensive end of the floor, Mason recorded five blocks, while the Colonials only recorded two.
Rebounding was strong for the Patriots, as they out-rebounded the Colonials 31 to 22. Both teams were getting to the foul line to attempt free-throws. Mason shot 10 for 12 from the charity stripe, while George Washington went eight for nine. Both teams were trading field goals in the first half.
The Patriots led the Colonials 31-29 at the conclusion of the first half. Mason guard Otis Livingston II was the team’s leading scorer in the first half with 10 points. Forward Tyler Cavanaugh and guard Patricio Garino led the Colonials in scoring with nine apiece.
Both teams came out for the second half showing aggression on offense by driving to the basket and knocking down shots. Mason shot 48.5 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc. Livingston and guard Jaire Grayer were the focal points of Mason’s offensive play in the second half.
Grayer made a trio of tough three-point shots from the wing. His third shot from beyond the arc pulled Mason to within two. Grayer ended the game with nine points, five rebounds and two blocks.
With Mason down 59-57, Livingston made a nice behind-the-back pass to guard DeAndre Abram for a ferocious two-hand dunk in transition. Abram’s basket tied the game at 59-59 with 5:04 left in the second half. Livingston finished the game with 18 points to go along with seven assists.
As for the Colonials, they shot 42.3 percent from the field in the second half. They also shot 42.9 percent from beyond the arc. They attempted a great number of shots from the free-throw line in the second half by aggressively driving to the basket to score high-percentage shots.
The Colonials shot 22 for 27 from the free-throw line in the second half. They had four starters finish the game in double figures. Garino finished with a game-high of 19 points, and Cavanaugh ended the game with 15 points and eight rebounds.
The Colonials’ approach to get to the basket led to 22 free throws made in the second half, which proved to be the difference in the game. They ended the game shooting 30 for 36 from the free-throw line, while the Patriots only shot 13 for 17. The Colonials finished the game shooting 32.8 percent from the field.
Mason Head Coach Dave Paulsen referred to the game as a “disappointing loss.”
“We wanted to see our guys rewarded. I think they fought so hard, had a game plan, competed, and were physical. Obviously down the stretch [was] where a veteran team in G.W. made all the plays, and we came up a little bit short,” Paulsen said.
The Patriots finished the game shooting 37.3 percent from the field. Paulsen conceded they are not a great shooting team in games or in practice. He believes the team needs to improve.
“We are going to be a team, hopefully not for the long term but for the short term, that is going to have these fluctuations in offensive performances,” Paulsen said.
With Mason’s shots not falling early in the game, Livingston does not think the team had a bad shooting performance in the first half just because of rushed attempts. However, he believes that the shots were “so open,” but the team just wasn’t converting them.
Colonials Head Coach Mike Lonergan was encouraged by his team’s much-needed win. He told his players to “look in the mirror and seize this opportunity.” Even with the conference win, Lonergan does not feel that the team is where they should be with their experience and talent level.
“Obviously, we don’t have a very deep bench. [Guard] Jordan Roland did a great job for us today. We really have no [big men] off the bench right now that are experienced enough to help us. So, it’s hard, and we have to play around that. We need to be playing at a higher level. To me, it’s about concentration and focus,” Lonergan said.
Mason’s men’s basketball team will be facing the University of Richmond on Wed., Feb. 3, at the Robins Center in Richmond, Va. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.