BY: ROSS SHINBERG STAFF WRITER
With a game plan resembling that of the grit-and-grind Memphis Grizzlies, the Mason men’s basketball team secured their spot in the Atlantic 10 tournament quarterfinals by defeating George Washington 73-59 on Thursday night.
Junior Jordan Miller continues to shine as Mason’s premier player, leading the team with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
This victory marks Mason’s fifth consecutive win, the longest active win streak in the conference.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
START SLOW, FINISH STRONG
George Washington looked ready to go after beating Fordham on Wednesday, and momentum was on their side early. The underdog Colonials went into halftime with a 25-22 lead and expanded it to as large as 34-26 early in the second half.
However, on the second leg of a back-to-back, fatigue crept in. Mason soon went on a 14-0 run and never looked back. The Patriots outscored the Colonials 51-34 in the second half and allowed only six points in the final five and a half minutes of the game.
A POLITE VICTORY
Freshman guard Ronald Polite provided the offensive spark Mason needed to get past George Washington. Polite shattered his previous career-high for points of six, scoring 17 on 7-10 shooting off the bench.
Additionally, head coach Dave Paulsen praised Polite’s efforts on the other side of the ball, saying his “defense on [James] Bishop was really phenomenal.”
For Mason to make a deep run in the conference tournament, they need somebody other than Josh Oduro to make contributions off the bench. And with Mason going with smaller lineups in recent games, Polite can give Mason different looks on offense and force their opponents to prepare for more possibilities.
SURVIVE AND ADVANCE
This victory earns Mason a date with No. 3 seed Davidson in the quarterfinals. This will be the first matchup between the two teams this season after scheduling changes wiped away a potential meeting on Feb. 24.
Davidson recorded a 12-7 overall record, including a 7-4 mark in conference play. The Wildcats are led by senior guard Kellan Grady (16.8 PPG) and sophomore forward Hyunjung Lee (13.2 PPG).
The game tips off today at 5:30 p.m. on NBCSN. A win would give Mason its first A-10 tournament semifinal appearance in program history.