Fairfax, Va. — The scene was a familiar one. A navy clad player would drive into the lane and throw up a layup, the ball over the fingertips of the outstretched green defender, off the glass, and into the net.
It was a pattern that repeated itself over and over, as the George Mason Patriots fell to the Richmond Spiders, 97-87, on a January 18 matinee at EagleBank Arena.
The Spiders shot a scorching 67% from the field, including a phenomenal performance inside, as the Patriots were unable to muster any sort of interior defense
Richmond’s Grant Golden was the beneficiary of the lack of defense, as the Winchester-native was unstoppable. The 6-foot-10 redshirt junior forward scored 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting, using an array of post moves to make his mark.
“We knew if they were in man, we felt like we could get what we wanted offensively,” Golden said.
Golden’s effort was part of a larger performance by the Spiders inside, as they dominated the Patriots to the tune of 82% inside the paint, including 13-13 at the rim. George Mason redshirt junior forward AJ Wilson – who had been averaging 3.6 blocks per game – had the only block of the game for George Mason.
“They shoot the ball so well from three, they move the ball so well, and they have tremendous spacing,” George Mason head coach Dave Paulsen said. “To some degree you have to choose your poison if you will.”
The Patriots were unable to muster much any type of defense, as they gave up a season-high 97 points. Part of that came due to the Mason turnover issues.
With four minutes left in the first half, the Patriots had a golden opportunity. They broke the Richmond press and had a 2-on-1 going to the hoop as junior guard Javon Greene lobbed up an alley-oop to Wilson, who was poised to throw down a thundering jam.
Except the pass was a few inches too high and went out of bounds, one of 15 turnovers on the night.
In certain situations, when the game gets up speed, we tend to push at a faster pace and sometimes we just need to calm down and take it play by play.
—George Mason junior guard Javon Greene
It was a rare miscue on a phenomenal night for Greene. He was absolutely sensational, scoring 39 points on 15-of-22 shooting, including 5-of-10 from behind the three-point line. Those 39 points were the most scored by a George Mason player in a single game in EagleBank Arena history.
“Tonight was my night and my teammates found me,” Greene said. “I couldn’t give enough credit to them. Part of it was confidence, and I felt like me having to step up, brought that confidence today and hopefully the rest of the season.”
Greene was the leading scorer on the team, but Loudoun County native Jordan Miller scored 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field and 2-of-5 from behind the arc. Miller has been dominant from distance, holding the second best three-point percentage (.472) in the Atlantic 10 this winter and the 29th best in the country.
However, Greene, who finished with only one turnover, did express concern for the turnover-filled game but offered up advice to himself and his teammates.
“In certain situations, when the game gets up speed, we tend to push at a faster pace and sometimes we just need to calm down and take it play by play and take pride in each possession because if we turn the ball over, that’s one less possession we have,” Greene said. “We just need to calm down in certain situations and let the game come to us.”
Richmond junior guard Jacob Gilyard had three steals on the night to go along with 20 points and 8 assists, displaying remarkable quickness to get inside and finish over much taller opponents.
After taking an early 23-13 lead, Mason lost the lead and was playing catchup for the rest of the night.
The loss drops the Patriots to 12-6 and 1-4 inside the A-10. They’ll stay home and play UMass on January 22 while the Spiders will take on La Salle in Richmond on the same date.
George Mason Stats
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