Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
Normally it’s the Rams who use the press and a fast-paced offense to speed up the other team and get on a run. On Wednesday night, George Mason flipped the script on the black and gold in the first half.
George Mason gave the Rams a taste of their own medicine in the first half, going on a 9-0 run. During their run, the Patriots forced a 10-second violation on the Rams backcourt when freshman guard Bones Hyland couldn’t get the ball past halfcourt in time.
“It’s a different press than what we are used to,” redshirt-senior forward Issac Vann said. “It’s not a man-to-man press that you see everyday.”
The black and gold didn’t record a point for over six minutes as the Patriots built an 8-point lead.
The Rams were able to take a 1-point lead late in the first half, but that was the last time they held it as George Mason knocked off men’s basketball 72-67 at the Siegel Center.
In the second half, the Rams had a lid on the basket early, and it stayed on it for most of the night as it took them just under five and a half minutes to score. They were 2-for-11 from the field to open the final 20 minutes.
The Rams finished shooting 39% from the field, including 30% from deep. George Mason shot 44% from the field and 40% from three.
“They [George Mason] played with more aggression,” coach Mike Rhoades said. “We had a lot of rebounds where we tried to rebound with one hand and they snatched from us. To me that’s urgency, that’s being right.”
George Mason closed the door on the Rams midway through the second half, going on a 16-0 run. The black and gold were held scoreless for more than five minutes during the Patriots’ run.
Late in the game, Hyland knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to pull the Rams within 8. He finished with 11 points, making three 3-pointers on the night.
The Rams managed to pull within three late in the game, but George Mason was able to fend off the black and gold’s final push.
The Patriots bullied the Rams on the offensive glass, out-rebounding the black and gold 15-8. George Mason also owned the total rebounding battle 48-27.
“They beat us to every rebound, loose balls,” Rhoades said. “They wanted to win more than we did — can’t sugar coat it.”
Senior guard De’Riante Jenkins led the Rams with 16 points on the night, 13 of them in the first half. Redshirt-senior forward Issac Vann added 13 points and four assists.
“This doesn’t define our season, we’ve got a lot of basketball left,” Jenkins said. “We’ve got to just take it day by day. … and just come out and be more aggressive as a unit.”
The Rams travel to Richmond on Saturday at 4 p.m. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.