Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
Men’s basketball out-rebounded Richmond on Wednesday by 16. Only three days later, VCU saw a complete 180, being out-rebounded by George Mason 42-26.
The Rams’ six-game winning streak was snapped by the Patriots on Saturday afternoon, falling in overtime 79-76 at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
“When you turn the ball over and give up so many offensive rebounds, it’s a tough recipe and you saw that today,” coach Mike Rhoades said.
The Rams turned the ball over 19 times, allowing the Patriots to convert 21 points.
“We just didn’t take care of the ball,” senior forward Levi Stockard said. “We just gave them too many possessions.”
The Rams opened the contest on a 7-2 run, led by sophomore forward Hason Ward’s two blocks in the first four minutes. Ward’s second block was emphatic against George Mason’s Jordan Miller’s 3-point attempt, launching the ball into the tunnel.
George Mason answered VCU’s hot start with an 11-0 run early in the half to take a 6-point lead. The Rams were held without a point for three and a half minutes.
Freshman forward Jamir Watkins ended the Patriots’ run with back-to-back baskets, including a 3-pointer.
The Rams used two runs late in the first half to build their lead. The first was a 6-0 run to take and extend the lead.
The black and gold closed the half on a 7-0 run, holding the Patriots without a point for just under the final three minutes of the period.
During the run, sophomore guard Bones Hyland knocked down a step-back 3-pointer as the shot clock expired over a George Mason defender from the left wing.
Hyland left the game in the second half with a foot injury and was carried off the court by assistant coach Brent Scott and athletic trainer Dennis Williams.
Hyland’s initial diagnosis was a foot sprain but was being reevaluated after the game, Rhoades said.
In the second half, the Patriots had two 7-0 runs, cutting into the Rams’ lead both times.
Midway through the second half, the Rams used a 6-0 run to push their lead to 8.
George Mason surged back. The Patriots used a 7-0 run to take a 2-point lead late in the second half. The Rams were held scoreless for roughly two and a half minutes during the run.
Watkins hit a jumper late in the half, followed by a Stockard layup and free throw to take a 2-point lead. It didn’t last long as the Patriots tied the game with less than a minute to play.
“He’s a very talented offensive player,” Rhoades said of Watkins. “You saw that again today, and he’s just continually learning.”
Freshman guard Ace Baldwin logged a game-saving steal with less than 15 seconds left in regulation, setting up a final offensive push for the Rams. Williams had a look from deep for the win, but it hit off the rim.
The Patriots went on a 6-0 run in overtime to take a 4-point lead. The lead was too much for the Rams to make up in the final minutes of the extra time.
George Mason outscored VCU 13-2 in second chance points in the contest and dominated in the paint, where the Patriots outscored the Rams 46-32
“We just have to take it to the chin,” Stockard said. “Go back to the drawing board, and get ready for the next one.”
The Rams will be back in action at the Stuart C. Siegel Center on Tuesday against Saint Louis at 6 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.