George Mason (7-7; 1-0 A-10) made 15 three-pointers and used a strong second half to overtake Saint Joseph’s, 85-60, in the opening game of Atlantic 10 Conference play at Hagan Arena.
The Patriots connected on 53.6 percent (15-of-28) from three-point range in the game and outscored SJU, 51-26, in the second half alone. George Mason placed five players in double figures, led by Justin Kier with 18 points and 14 rebounds, and Otis Livingston II with 17 points.
Saint Joseph’s (7-6; 0-1) received 17 points apiece from Lamarr Kimble and Charlie Brown, Jr., and a season-high 10 from Anthony Longpré, as he made 3-of-7 three-pointers. Lorenzo Edwards came off the bench to record a career-high four blocked shots while Markell Lodge posted three blocks.
After a first half that featured 12 ties, including a 34-34 halftime score, the Hawks were within, 51-50, at 11:59 after a three-pointer by Brown. Mason’s Ian Boyd answered back with a four-point play at 11:34 that gave the Patriots a 55-50 edge.
George Mason then started its game-opening run on a pair of free throws by Boyd with 9:58 to play. The Patriots scored 19 straight points over a span of almost six minutes, with eight from Livingston, to take a 76-54 lead with 4:45 to play. SJU missed 10 consecutive field goals during that stretch until Brown connected on a jumper at 4:02.
The game began with a fast-paced first six minutes with the teams tied, 17-17, and both shooting 60 percent. The Patriots made seven of their first 11 three-point attempts to take a 27-21 lead, for their biggest of the half.
Trailing 32-27, SJU used a 7-2 spurt as Mason cooled off and missed 10 consecutive shots before hitting a pair of free throws in the final minute of the half.
"Our defensive numbers have improved so much, but a 51-point half and then 11 first-half offensive rebounds and shooting 25 percent at home,” said SJU head coach Phil Martelli. “But I just told them that someone has never not been knocked down. So now we have to lift ourselves up. You could look at these numbers all night, but there's nothing in here. We’ll be back at it tomorrow."
"At one end, the basket was as big as an ocean and at the other end, it was as big as a thimble. It's natural for players to have energy off of makes. It's just disappointing and I know we have more in that room than what we just showed,” said Martelli. “Home games are gold, and we just gave away gold."
Saint Joseph’s, which ranks second in the nation in fewest turnovers, tied its season-high with 13 and connected on just 23.3 percent (7-of-30) from beyond the arc.
The Hawks will host George Washington on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. in a nationally-televised (NBCSN) contest at Hagan Arena before going on the road for two straight games.