BY TYLER BYRUM
FAIRFAX, VA – Coming down the final seconds of the game, Rhode Island was able to hold off a resilient George Mason squad after blowing an 18-point lead in the second half to win, 77-74.
Stanford Robinson scored a team-high 21 points off the bench in a homecoming affair for the Paul VI Catholic High School graduate. From behind the arc, Robinson was a perfect 3-for-3 and brought down two huge offensive rebounds late in the contest.
In the final minute though, it was Robinson who gave the Patriots hope as he missed two free throws with less than two seconds left in the game.
Grabbing his fifth rebound of the contest to go along with 22 points, Jalen Jenkins threw up a full-court heave that was just a foot wide of the basket.
From the onset, Rhode Island (17-9, 9-5) had the size advantage but was going against the NCAA’s best rebounding guard, Marquise Moore. Bringing down 31 rebounds, 14 being offensive, the Rams scored 13 pivotal second chance points. Moore, though, would manage to record his 17th double-double of the season (19 points, 10 rebounds).
This was Moore's fourth straight double-double, which is helping his case as one of the favorites for the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year.
E.C. Matthews was another one of the Rams to rack up the points in EagleBank Arena. With 18 points on 15 shots, Matthews kept the Rams alive after the team allowed the Patriots to go on a 21-3 run.
The Rams consistently shot over the Patriots with five players recording a three-point basket. In the first half, the team shot 54 percent from behind the arc and had rolled to a 39-26 lead at the break.
George Mason (18-9, 8-6) was able to climb back after an insurmountable 18-point deficit minutes into the second half. Highlighting the scoring run, Otis Livingston II (nine points and seven rebounds) was able to hit a fadaway to bring Mason within four and the crowd to their feet.
Throughout the contest, the Patriots drew 23 fouls and made 31 of their 36 free throw attempts. This kept numerous Rams in foul trouble and forced Dan Hurley to go deep into his bench and use 11 players.
“That was one that we needed desperately,” Hurley said “We’ve done a lot of soul searching; we’ve also dealt with a lot this year.”
The victory gives Rhode Island a much-needed win after falling to Fordham 53-43 earlier in the week. Moving up to third place in the Atlantic 10, the Rams now use the momentum from this game in order to climb back in the NCAA tournament bubble.
Falling in this game, George Mason now is on the outside looking in for one of the conference’s coveted double-byes in the conference tournament.