- Mason loses regular season home finale 36-71 to the Rams
- VCU went on a 23-0 run in the second half
- Rams secure No. 1 overall seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, Patriots back in action on Saturday vs George Washington
FAIRFAX, Va. – George Mason Men’s Basketball faced off against VCU Tuesday night as part of Senior Night for the Patriots’ graduating class of 2019. Among them was senior guard Otis Livingston II, who has played all four years and leads the team in minutes played all season. Livingston II wasn’t highly recruited out of high school, and considers his time with the program as a dream come true. Much was expected from the Patriots during this game, but ultimately VCU proved too tough to handle.
The game was close at first, with VCU slightly edging out Mason 28-21 at the half. Junior guard Marcus Evans led the way with 11 points, on 7-11 shooting. Mason actually lead for 10:24 of the half, and the score was tied 3 times. Mason’s freshman guard Jordan Miller led the way for the Patriots with 7 points, tied up with junior guard Justin Kier, who shot 4-7 in the first half.
The second half was a completely different story. The Rams led 34-25 with 15:28 remaining and went on to relentlessly dominate the Patriots. A 23-0 run ensued, and the game was all but over during the 11:55 mark. By that time, VCU was up 49-25 and had two guys on double-digit points. There was no sign of a comeback from Mason, with VCU up by 33 with less than four minutes left. The Rams walked out of EagleBank Arena with a 71-36 win, clinching the #1 seed in the Atlantic-10 Tournament.
During the post-match press conference, VCU head coach Mike Rhoades revealed he was “really proud of the guys…. defense especially in the half court got us stops and momentum.. [I’m] proud of the way our guys approached the situation”. Evans added by saying “our energy was different.. [in the] first half we came out hesitant, [but] once we got on that run, there was no looking back”.
Rhoades was very happy with his team’s defensive work, and stressed how important it is to play great defense by saying “if you wanna win the championship, you gotta stop people”. Asked about the locker room atmosphere, Rhoades said “nobody gave us a shot. I told the guys… we gotta do it together… winning is great, but winning with people you love to be around is even greater”.
He then heaped praise on Otis Livingston II by saying “he does it the right way, he handles himself and acts the right way… he respects the game. [He’s] made George Mason better and the Atlantic 10 better… [he’s] a heck of a person and a heck of a basketball player”.
George Mason Men’s Basketball Team celebrated Senior Night against VCU. Pictured from Left to Right: Head Coach Dave Paulsen, guard Otis Livinsgton II, guard Jaire Grayer, guard Nick Diclementi, and guard Logan Samuels
GMU Head Coach Dave Paulsen took the high road and congratulated the Rams on their win at the start of his press conference. He then revealed some injury news about Livingston II by stating how his ankle tweak and sprain made it hard for him to perform during the game. “His impact on this program has been phenomenal and he’s not done”, said Paulsen. “On his senior night obviously… the captivating experience he’s had on our fans is unbelievable”.
Talking about his team’s performance during the night, Paulsen said “we ran good offense and good shots that we just couldn’t make… the run they made at the end of the first half was very pivotal”. Defensively, Paulsen admitted his team has some work to do and said “we can’t turn it over, we did a poor job on the glass”. As Mason looks to move on from the loss, Paulsen added “how you respond (to adversity) is really the mark of who you are”.
“[He’s] made George Mason better and the Atlantic 10 better… [he’s] a heck of a person and a heck of a basketball player”. – VCU Head Coach Mike Rhoades on GMU guard Otis Livingston II
Next up on the mic was the man of the hour himself; Otis Livingston II. On regrouping, Livingston II said “ we’ve dealt with this throughout the season, we’ve been able to bounce back before, we need to put this one behind us, learn, watch film, and move on”. Like his coach, he also praised the opponents and said, “VCU’s a really good team on the defensive end”. Asked if he shared a moment with fellow senior Jaire Grayer after the game, Livingston II responded by saying “after the game (Jayer and I) we just talked, that’s my guy”.
I asked Livingston II what he recalls as his best memory in his four years playing for Mason and he responded “every game, its been a blessing… to be here is just a dream come true for me.. I’ve wanted to play Division 1 basketball since I was little…”. He added “I wasn’t really recruited coming out of high school… [so] when they gave me that chance to [play D-1 basketball] I just wanted to make the most out of it and I really felt blessed by God to be here…”.
He continued by showing his gratitude to the fans, saying “they cheer for us no matter what… they show us so much love… and every game I lace my shoes up and play for this crowd”. Lastly, he finished the press conference by acknowledging his team. “It’s a blessing to be here and to play for these coaches and these teammates, and I wouldn’t want to play with anyone else”.
To Mason Nation .. thank you so much for your support over my 4 years here.. this place means more to me than you guys will ever know.. words can’t do it justice.. every game here was a dream come true for me… thanks again you guys ❤️❤️😢😢
— picassO numba 🥇 (@Slimm_4) March 6, 2019