Sparked by eight points and two offensive rebounds in less than 5 minutes, the Richmond men’s basketball team took control of the first half early Wednesday night against George Mason at the Robins Center. The team never looked back, winning 65-50.
“That’s a great basketball team we lost to tonight,” said George Mason Head Coach Dave Paulsen.
After a big home win against cross-town rival VCU on Feb. 15, the Spiders had to make sure they did not come out flat against a young George Mason team, and they did not disappoint the home crowd.
Both offenses struggled overall in the first half, as the Spiders shot 12-29 (41.4%) from the field while George Mason managed just a 31.8% field goal percentage.
Redshirt junior Blake Francis and junior Jacob Gilyard continuously broke down the Patriots’ press defense, as they combined for three assists and zero turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play.
Richmond Head Coach Chris Mooney was thrilled with the Spiders’ defensive effort, saying after the game, “I thought our defense was excellent.”
The Richmond defense did in fact stifle George Mason throughout the game, forcing 11 turnovers in the first half alone and allowing just four three-pointers out of 17 attempts.
George Mason’s offense hit a few big shots early in the second half, cutting the Spiders’ lead to four points with 15 minutes left. Nevertheless, sophomore Andre Gustavson’s three-pointer shortly after kept Richmond out front while the two offenses sputtered again in the middle of the half.
Richmond continued to make it difficult for George Mason's offense, and as a result the Spiders extended their lead to 13 points with 7:53 left in the game. A layup with two and a half minutes to play from sophomore Matt Grace put the game out of reach, as the Spiders went up 61-44.
Francis highlighted the Spiders’ ability to dominate the paint in this game.
“Grant [Golden] makes it easier for all of us on the perimeter…Just trying to throw it inside and move without the ball to get some good looks,” Francis said.
Richmond tallied 38 points in the paint compared to George Mason’s 26, as the Spiders showed that they can run a multi-dimensional offense.
Golden finished his strong performance with 21 points and seven rebounds, with Francis adding 14 points and Gustavson scoring 9 important points off the bench on 4-6 shooting.
Mooney raved about Gustavson's presence off of the bench.
“He can bring tremendous energy and defend incredibly well without necessarily taking too many chances,” Mooney said.
The Spiders improve to 20-6 overall and 10-3 in the A-10 conference with Wednesday's win. The team heads to New York on Saturday, Feb. 22, to take on St. Bonaventure in a crucial A-10 matchup at 6:30 p.m.
Contact sports writer Josh Schneider at email@example.com