George Washington was able to hold off new conference-rival, George Mason 66-58 Sunday afternoon at home to help themselves move closer to Coach Mike Lonergan’s goal of reaching the NCAA Tournament. With the win GW improves to 21-7 and 9-5 in conference play and they kept themselves right in the race for a bye in the first round of the A-10 Tournament. The top four seeds in the conference get the extra rest day. Maurice Creek, a graduating senior, scored a game-high 22 points. He started off the second half with three straight made three pointers before making a layup to give the Colonials an 11-2 run to start the half. Going into halftime GW held just a 26-24 advantage over Mason. Creek’s 22 came on 7-16 shooting and 4-9 from three in the big win for Coach Lonergan’s squad.
After Creek’s 11-2 run that brought the score to 35-24, George Mason fought back strongly and quickly as they got the score down to 42-41 after a tough layup by Sherrod Wright who led Mason with 16. But sophomore Patricio Garino stepped up and knocked down a big three to put GW up four and they never looked back from there. Garino picked up his fourth foul midway through the second half but Lonergan kept him in and watched Garino score eight huge points before finally fouling out on an offensive foul with 4:53 left; GW was up 12. Lonergan said the decision to keep Garino in was to “give him confidence to play him (in big games).” Adding “I didn’t want to just rest him in the second half.”
Lonergan also got a huge game out of senior forward, Isaiah Armwood, who finished with another double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Armwood led the charge on the offensive glass with 5 of the Colonials 14 offensive rebounds. Kevin Larsen also scored 11 points while grabbing 7 rebounds of his own for GW.
For Paul Hewitt’s Patriots, he said in few words that, “It’s been frustrating.” This is just one of many games that George Mason has fought hard to end up with a loss. They took first place St. Louis to overtime in both meetings with the Bilikens. Hewitt was very frustrated with his team’s rebounding stating, “that’s usually our strong point.”
George Washington will host St. Joseph’s on Wednesday night in a huge matchup between two top five teams in the conference. St. Joe’s needs to win just one of their remaining games to lockup a bye, which St. Louis has already done. Massachusetts, George Washington, VCU, Dayton, and Richmond are all in the race for the final two byes. The A-10 Tournament starts March 12th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.