George Mason traveled to Charlottesville on Tuesday night in search of a marquee non-conference win against a BCS conference opponent. Instead the Patriots left with a lost opportunity after turning the ball over 20 times in their 68-48 loss to Virginia in front of 8,954 at John Paul Jones Arena.
For the first time this season, George Mason (6-3) was held to under 50 points and failed to produce a double-digit scorer. Ryan Pearson, Mike Morrison, and Vertrail Vaughns all narrowly missed out on that mark by each finishing with nine points.
The Patriots troubles started early on and continued throughout the night. Midway through the first half Sherrod Wright’s layup snapped a four-minute scoreless drought to cut Virginia’s lead back down into single digits at 20-11. Through that point in the game George Mason already had more turnovers (6) than field goals (5).
Virginia (8-1) quickly pushed their lead back into double-digits and took a 33-22 advantage heading into the halftime break.
Sammy Zeglinski came out firing in the second half from long range as part of a quick 12-4 spurt that extended the Cavaliers lead to 45-26, their largest of the game.
Zeglinski led four Cavaliers in double-figures with a season-high 18 points, highlighted by hitting 4-of-6 three-pointers. Mike Scott, Joe Harris, and Jontel Evans all chipped in with 11 points.
Paul Hewitt saw his team get back in the game after Mike Morrison’s jumper finished off a 14-5 run that narrowed the gap to 50-40 with 9:39 left in the game but it was too much to overcome. Virginia once again clamped down on defense led by Assane Sene’s four blocks.
With their first win over George Mason since 1998, Virginia now leads the all-time series 7-0.
“They’re a good basketball team,” Hewitt said of his former ACC foes, “but some of things that we thought we could exploit, we did. We just kept hurting ourselves.”
Like any team, the Patriots struggled on a night where they shot just 50 percent from the free throw line and only connected on 2-of-8 three-pointers. Conversely, Virginia hit a season best 60 percent from the field (26-of-43) as well as 50 percent (7-of-14) from beyond the arc.
Up Next: The Patriots continue their in-state tour by traveling to Roanoke on Saturday afternoon to take on Radford at 4pm.
Patriots Notes: Corey Edwards played 19 minutes off the bench in his first action since suffering a concussion. The freshman point guard missed the last two games. Ryan Pearson had a streak of nine consecutive games in double figures dating back to last season snapped in the loss