Men’s basketball knocks off George Mason in Fairfax

Image credit: @GW_MBB

By: Abe Rothstein

Following a brutal loss two days prior, George Washington men’s basketball traveled to Fairfax, Virginia for the Revolutionary Rivalry on Monday afternoon. The George Mason Patriots were looking for revenge after losing to the Buff and Blue in a game that featured no outside fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic at the Smith Center. 

GW had a lot to play for after losing a winnable game against St Louis without their star player, the NCAA assists leader, Yuri Collins. At one point, GW let up a 25-0 run and did not score for over 10:30 of game time. Today, GW held the lead for 38 minutes in a close 78-75 victory. 

Looking to come back from a brutal loss, GW looked to attack early both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. After not scoring in the loss to SLU, Ricky Lindo Jr. opened the scoring for GW with all five of the team’s first points. Lindo and the other big men on the team had a tall task in guarding all A-10 player Josh Oduro. In the first half, GW was able to shut out Oduro through their game plan, which featured heavy use of the press on the defensive end. GW head coach Chris Caputo went into detail about the game plan, “What I didn’t want was them to walk up the floor, get set, throw to [Oduro] in his spots.” 

This game plan was highly successful, as he ended the half with zero points. Oduro, much like the rest of his team, struggled mightily in the first half of play. At one point, GW held a 14-point lead over the Patriots but would watch that lead start to drift away after not scoring for over six minutes, a theme that echoed the massive drought in their previous game. As George Mason pulled within two points, Brendan Adams hit one of his five threes on the day to send GW into halftime up five points. 

The graduate student had one of his best games of the season, consistently hitting timely shots, including a four-point play early in the half. Adams finished with 22 points (5-8 3PT) to go along with eight rebounds and only three turnovers. The guard had seven turnovers in the loss against SLU. With Adams playing as well as he did, GW was not nearly as reliant on star guard James Bishop in the first half, as he finished the half with only six points but six assists. Even with Bishop not scoring effectively in the half, the team has been set up to support each other, which Bishop spoke about following the game. 

“The culture we have on our team, when someone is open and has a good look, we encourage them to hit the open man… it’s the confidence we have in each other,” Bishop said. 

This confidence is certainly evident, especially with the emergence of redshirt freshman Maximus Edwards, who was awarded A-10 Rookie of the Week this afternoon. Teammates were looking for Edwards, who finished the game with 14 points, including the second four-point play of the game at the beginning of the second half. Caputo, self admittedly, is hard on Edwards but will play him through his mistakes. This is largely due to the fact that GW only has eight scholarship players left following season-ending injuries to guards EJ Clark and Daniel Nixon, and more recently center Keegan Harvey, which shortens the rotations. Edwards’ performance and improvement have been noted by the coaching staff, and specifically Coach Caputo, “He was rookie of the week this week and I think he could’ve at least two other weeks.”

George Mason would find an offensive groove in the second half as star player Josh Oduro came alive. The senior went on to score all 17 of his points in the second half as he looked to exploit one on one situations against Hunter Dean and Noel Brown. GW even looked to foul Oduro, who was only a 58% free throw shooter entering the game but hit 8-10 free throws on the day. 

Oduro was not the only star player that woke up in the second half. James Bishop had 13 of his 19 points on the day in the second and regularly looked to exploit the mismatch against Oduro. First half defense against Bishop featured doubling off a high ball screen, but the second half only featured switches, which was frankly a questionable coaching decision by Kim English. 

With Mason only down two with 46 seconds left, Noel Brown drew a crucial foul on Oduro, who was attempting to go up for an offensive rebound. Normally reliable free throw shooter Brendan Adams missed his free throw, but GW was able to stop George Mason following a James Bishop rebound. 

Following the victory, the players rushed over to the George Mason student section, which was invaded by George’s Army, and embraced several members of the supporters section. James Bishop even noted the advantage of having GW students travel, “Having a crowd like that in someone else’s arena, that gives us a big boost.”

Coach Caputo put his homecoming to George Mason, where he coached for eight years, in a great way, “It’s a hell of a win for our program.”

Next up for GW is a matchup with Dayton at home at 12:30 PM on Saturday. That game can be found on USA Network and WRGW.

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