Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
Bones Hyland repeatedly blew past George Mason defenders on Wednesday night as the Rams played the Patriots on the road. Each drive into the paint, the sophomore guard scored at the basket.
Hyland’s 3-point shots weren’t going down, but cutting in open lanes allowed him to lead VCU over George Mason 66-61, logging 23 points and 10 rebounds. The double-double marks Hyland’s first in his collegiate career.
“Coach always say I’m not a one-demensional type player,” Hyland said. “When my shots not falling, I can do all different types of stuff on the court. … my shot wasn’t falling but I just tried to stay aggressive.”
Hyland shot 2-for-9 from deep during the contest, but was 7-of-14 inside the arc.
“People have to play him extra tight because they don’t want to give up multiple threes to him,” coach Mike Rhoades said. “He finishes in different ways, he can pass the ball too, so when he goes down there they’re not sure what’s going to happen.
George Mason’s Tyler Kolek was hot from deep early on in the game, knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Patriots’ lead to 5.
Hyland accounted for the Rams’ first 7 points until senior guard Corey Douglas hit a layup midway through the first half as the black and gold trailed by 7.
The Rams struggled with turnovers in the first half, logging 7 in the first 12 minutes of play. George Mason converted those errors into 6 points.
The Rams trailed by as many as 9 in the first half, something Rhoades said is a learning tool.
“This is ideal as a coach, you want adversity and still win, so we can learn and grow,” Rhoades said. “We don’t want it to be a loss to get our attention.”
The black and gold found its rhythm midway through the first 20 minutes, going on a 6-0 run to take a one point lead.
Freshman guard Ace Baldwin knocked down a 3-pointer from the left wing with under a minute to play in the half to push the lead to 3.
George Mason built slight momentum as Bahaïde Haïdara logged a steal and layup at end of the half to take a one point lead to the halftime break.
“We just went in the locker room and told each other that we trust each other and all we had to do was just get over this little hump,” Hyland said. “We just played with a lot of confidence and a lot of trust tonight.”
The Rams put a stop to any momentum the Patriots went to the locker room with, as they went on another 6-0 run — this time in the first two minutes of the second half. Junior forward Vince Williams logged 4 points during the run.
VCU kept its foot on the gas, going on an 11-1 run midway through the second half. Hyland knocked down a deep 3-pointer from top of the key during the run.
The two teams traded points back and forth, keeping the VCU lead intact for most of the second half.
The Patriots made a final push, going on a 9-2 run to pull within 8. VCU was able to halt the run and fend off George Mason.
VCU shot 45% from the field on the night, while holding the Patriots to shooting a 33% clip. The Rams forced 16 turnovers, but only managed to score 10 points off the errors.
The Rams are back in action on Saturday, Jan. 9 at 2 p.m., hosting Rhode Island at the Siegel Center. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.