As Usual … It’s Mason
Patriots Beat JMU Again, 74-63
Posted: February 4, 2013
James Madison’s Enoch Hood (left) and Devon Moore (second from right) battle for a rebound with George Mason’s Marko Gujanicic (right) and Jonathan Arledge on Saturday at the Convocation Center. (Photos by Nikki Fox)
Matt Brady’s Dukes dropped to 13-11 overall.
The Dukes’ A.J. Davis drives against the Patriots’ Paris Bennett.
Within minutes, the momentum vanished.
George Mason built an 11-0 edge and never lost the lead — though JMU, sparked by senior point guard Devon Moore, challenged in the second half — as the Patriots continued to torment the Dukes, winning for the 20th time in the last 21 meetings, this time 74-63.
Moore scored a career-high 25 points, including nine in a row to slice the Dukes’ deficit to 56-55 with 6:43 to play. But Madison could never take the lead, though it appeared to a cheering crowd that it had done so on freshman Andre Nation’s dunk with 4:06 left that was negated by a foul.
“It’s a let-down knowing we were so close,” Moore said. “The little things, as far as making free throws and boxing out, we didn’t do.”
George Mason pulled away in the final minute-and-a-half after JMU forward Rayshawn Goins was called for a flagrant foul.
“This is probably the most impressive game in the year and 22 games that I’ve been coaching this team,” Mason’s Paul Hewitt said. “That was very impressive. … [Our players] deserve a lot of credit for coming into this atmosphere and doing everything you’re supposed to do on the road. Got off to a quick start, got a lead, and played from ahead the whole way. And when they got it to a one-point game, we kept our cool, we executed.”
JMU’s simple but reliable recipe during its winning streak was defense and rebounding. But Mason (13-9 overall, 6-4 in the CAA), shot a gaudy 49 percent from the field and won the battle of the boards 35-25 after failing in that department in its last four games.
Junior guard Sherrod Wright had 22 points and 11 rebounds to help the Patriots snap a two-game skid and sweep the Dukes (13-11, 7-4) — a note that becomes relevant if these teams continue to vie for positioning in the conference standings as tightly as they battled for spots on the court Saturday.
Each team was whistled for 23 fouls, maybe none bigger than the flagrant delivered to Goins, who hacked Wright hard on a drive but appeared to be aiming for a block. Forward Jonathan Arledge made both free throws, shooting for the dazed Wright, and then connected on a layup to put Mason up seven points with 1:02 remaining.
“That was a moment where we needed to get points on the board and get a comfortable lead,” said Arledge, who finished with a career-best 19 points to go with six rebounds. “… It was big-time for us.”
Both Goins and Wright said the foul was not intentional.
“I know he wasn’t trying to hurt me,” Wright said. “I know he went clean for the block. I didn’t know they called a flagrant until I got up. He went clean for the block. There’s no animosity or anything between us. Good, clean foul. Hard, but clean.”
JMU’s quick-developing freshmen have driven much of the team’s success this season, but playing in front of a big home crowd for the first time, the Dukes’ rookies struggled.
Freshmen Ron Curry, Nation, Charles Cooke and Taylor Bessick combined to go 3-of-15 from the field, missing open shots they typically sink. Bessick, the team’s starting power forward, was limited to just four minutes because of foul trouble. Curry, the starting shooting guard, missed all three of his shots and committed four turnovers in 12 minutes before coach Matt Brady replaced him for good early in the second half. Nation, another starter, missed all four of his 3-pointers and finished with four points — his lowest total since the first game against George Mason, on Jan. 15, when he was limited by an injured shoulder. Cooke was the best of the bunch, coming off the bench to contribute seven points and three assists, but on just 1-of-4 field-goal shooting (all from behind the 3-point arc).
Goins, a senior, finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, the only Duke to join Moore in double-figures.
“To win a game like this, you need to have more than two guys play well at the offensive end,” Brady said. “We just needed to get more going. …You’ve got to shoot better than 6-of-24 from the 3-point line.”
They also had to shoot better than 60.7 percent (17-for-28) from the free-throw line. The Patriots did, making 23 of 26 attempts or 88.5 percent.
Brady argued several officiating calls, including Goins’ flagrant and a close block/charge whistle that benefitted Mason, but said after the game that the “officiating was fine.”
More damaging to the Dukes was the quality of play by the Patriots, who at times this season seemed to be sleepwalking, but on Saturday looked more like the team tabbed in the preseason as a serious championship contender.
“I thought that George Mason played terrific,” Brady said. “Every time we made a run, they had an answer for us. I thought their defense was high-level and I thought that we did some things not well today that we’ve been doing much better since the beginning of the new year.”
Mason snapped Madison’s six-game home winning streak, but the Dukes remained in second place in the CAA after all of Saturday’s action (JMU is now tied with Georgia State, which is ineligible for the conference tournament).
JMU hosts sub-.500 William & Mary on Wednesday.
“Everybody wanted to make a big deal about this game, but no matter what happened, you have to flip the page,” Brady said. “… I don’t put more stock in any one game.”
Said Moore, who spoke earlier in the week about how important he thought it would be for JMU to finally beat Mason: “It hurts, but at the same time, we’re still in the race. That’s what I told our team at the end of the game: ‘We’re still in the race.’”
Copes 3-6 0-0 6, Arledge 7-11 5-5 19, Allen 3-3 2-3 8, Wright 5-11 11-12 22, Edwards 2-5 3-4 8, Bennett 0-0 0-0 0, Holloway 1-4 0-0 3, Vaughns 2-3 2-2 6, Okoloji 0-0 0-0 0, Gujanicic 1-6 0-0 2. Totals 24-49 23-26 74.
Bessick 0-1 0-0 0, Goins 5-7 2-4 13, Curry 0-3 0-0 0, Nation 2-7 0-0 4, Moore 7-13 9-12 25, Davis 3-9 1-2 9, Hood 2-2 1-4 5, Cooke 1-4 4-6 7, Diouf 0-3 0-0 0, Swindle 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-49 17-28 63.
Halftime—George Mason 32-27. 3-Point Goals—George Mason 3-9 (Wright 1-2, Edwards 1-2, Holloway 1-3, Gujanicic 0-2), James Madison 6-24 (Moore 2-4, Davis 2-7, Goins 1-2, Cooke 1-4, Diouf 0-1, Curry 0-2, Nation 0-4). Fouled Out—Moore. Rebounds—George Mason 35 (Wright 11), James Madison 25 (Goins 9). Assists—George Mason 16 (Allen 7), James Madison 14 (Moore 5). Total Fouls—George Mason 23, James Madison 23. A—5,170.