Men's Basketball Continues Revolutionary Rivalry Dominance
GW won its ninth straight over the Patriots with an 80-68 victory on Wednesday
WASHINGTON -- As George Mason head coach Dave Paulsen has said, "it's not a rivalry until we beat them." On Wednesday night at the Charles E. Smith Center in the first of two annual meetings between George Washington and George Mason, the homestanding Colonials of GW made sure that Paulsen's Patriots can't call it a rivalry for at least one more match-up. In remaining unbeaten against George Mason as A-10 conference brethren (9-0), GW snapped a four-game slide and pulled to within a game of .500 with a thorough 80-68 win against its nearby neighbor.
Yuta Watanabe was the difference-maker on both ends of the floor for GW with a performance that harkened his preseason reputation as the premier two-way player in the Atlantic 10. Watanabe paced the Colonials with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including a trio of threes in seven tries, but it was on the defensive end that Watanabe won the game. In Belichickian-style, head coach Maurice Joseph made his defensive game plan into taking out the opposition's leading gun. Having entered play today with back-to-back 25 and 26-point performances, Otis Livingston II came to GW averaging a team-high 16.8 points per game. Faced with the 6-foot-9 Watanabe, the quick 5-foot-11 Livingston didn't score until less than two minutes remained in the contest, as GW cut the head off the snake to earn the win.
GW forced 18 turnovers, six of which came from the sticky fingers of freshman Terry Nolan Jr. who had a career-high half-dozen steals. Nolan littered the stat sheet with 18 points, six assists and four rebounds in 39 minutes in arguably the finest performance of his burgeoning career. Bo Zeigler was a similar menace on both ends, registering 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting, in his typical highlight reel fashion that featured four dunks, while swatting three Mason shots.
Though the Patriots were able to connect at a .511 clip from the field, Livingston was held to 1-of-7 and the GW defense limited Mason to an 11-to-18 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Colonials also shut-out the Patriots in transition, securing 14 points on the fast break while allowing nary a bucket. Ultimately George Mason's 18 turnovers yielded 29 points on the other end for GW as the defensive activity of Watanabe, Nolan and Zeigler facilitated turning defense into easy offense.
GW held a 44-29 halftime edge after closing the first half on a 15-1 that turned a close one-point game into the 15-point margin at intermission over the final 4:20 of the stanza. The Colonials never trailed and led by as many as 17 early in the second half.
Goanar Mar led George Mason with 17 points while Jaire Grayer's 11-point, 10-rebound double-double effort also included a team-high five assists.
Wednesday's stop at home for the Colonials is the second of just three home games for GW this month as they now leave D.C. again for two more road dates. First up is VCU on Saturday in a nationally-televised NBCSN contest at 12:30pm, followed by a January 28th trip to take on the Bonnies of Saint Bonaventure at noon, once again on NBCSN. Following that the road-weary Colonials will be treated to a stretch of six-of-nine games at home through the end of February, starting on the final day of January against Duquesne at 7pm.
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