Men's Basketball Slips at George Mason
Yuta Watanabe goes for 19 points and 12 boards but the Colonials fall, 72-65
FAIRFAX, Va. -- In the second of two annual meetings between the nearby foes, this time in Fairfax, Va., the Patriots of George Mason finally got a win in the Revolutionary Rivalry against GW by holding off the Colonials, 72-65. It marked Mason's first victory in the series since it joined the Atlantic 10.
It was Homecoming at EagleBank Arena and the packed home crowd took in a thriller. GW trailed by one at halftime after briefly assuming a three-point lead early in the first. In fitting style during the Olympics, GW trotted out a staring unit with international flair, headlined by Japan's Yuta Watanabe and Canada's Patrick Steeves, alongside the freshmen backcourt of Terry Nolan Jr. and Justin Mazzulla, with Puerto Rico's Arnaldo Toro adding to the mix. Perhaps looking forward to his homeland's turn to host the Games in 2020, Watanabe double-doubled with team-highs of 19 points (all in the second half) and 12 rebounds, while Steeves started hot, channeling his inner Bill Wennington, to push GW out front 7-4.
Mason would rally though to take the narrowest halftime edge, and it stayed tight through Watanabe hitting a 3-pointer to knot it at 41-41 with 11:33 to play. From there, the Patriots raced downhill on a 16-2 run to assume their biggest lead of the game at 14 points with 5:31 to go. Not content to settle for silver in the game, GW fought to the finish line and made the Patriots earn the win at the free throw stripe. The Colonials had plenty of chances as Mason left 13 points at the charity stripe (19-of-32), but Otis Livingston II stepped up when it mattered most and buried all four of his freebies to secure the game, after GW drew within four twice in the final minute.
After being hounded by Watanabe in GW's win at Smith Center earlier this season and scoring just three points, Livingston got some revenge in his team-high 14-point, 9-assists outing. Jaire Grayer was also pivotal for the Patriots in a 12-point, 12-rebound double-double.
Unfortunately for GW, the iron was also unkind from the free throw line for the visitors, as the Colonials were 10-of-18 from the stripe in the seven-point defeat.
GW gets another crack at a road win at Massachusetts on Wednesday night at 7pm, before returning home a week from today to host VCU at 4pm.
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