BY TYLER BYRUM
FAIRFAX, VA -- There was a double dose of Havoc defense in EagleBank Arena on Friday night. A high-paced contest with 36 turnovers combined, led the fast break Rams to a 73-64 victory over George Mason.
Bodies were flying, fan bases out-shouting each other and the teams on the court played like it was a Lakers-Celtics battle.
Remember the old CAA VCU vs. George Mason matchups? That’s what you got in Fairfax, Virginia to kick off Atlantic 10 conference play.
JeQuan Lewis was the front of the charge with 26 points and was one of three Rams that reached double figures. Mo Allie-Cox was a rebound shy of a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Looking to run the Patriots out of their own building, VCU (11-3, 1-0) pushed the pace early. Off every defensive rebound they pushed the transition, after every basket VCU played with a full court press; Mason simply could not keep up.
Leading to a 13-0 run in the first half, the Rams built a 19-7 advantage that the Patriots would slowly chip away at for the remainder of the first.
Behind a home crowd that George Mason (10-4, 0-1) has not seen in years, Mason made it 36-35 at half.
Combating the Rams size, Mason pounded the paint with bodies, providing their own havoc, and forced the Rams to shoot over them. Focusing on defensive rebounding, Mo Allie-Cox and Justin Tillman were held to only three offensive boards in the first half.
However, there is only one team though that can control the Havoc, and that is VCU.
Keeping the tempo racing, Mason could not keep up with the Rams. Full court pressure limited the Patriots to a shorter shot clock and careless passes gave the Rams 16 points off turnovers. Dominating the paint, 44-32, VCU never allowed the Patriots to take the lead in the second half.
After the Patriots attempted to beat the Rams at their own game, VCU commanded the glass in the second half. Winning the battle of the boards 42-31, against a team that came in with a plus-10 rebounding advantage, limited Mason’s second chance points and kept momentum on the Rams side.
Shutting down the double-double machine in Marquise Moore (10 points, six rebounds), coming in with eight double-doubles on the season, became a pivotal turn for the Rams. The only way to cover Moore is with a quick guard on the outside and an agile big in the paint: Lewis and Allie-Cox.
In the second half he only brought in one board.
VCU jumps to an early lead in the conference standings with them and the Patriots having the best non-conference record in the league.
The rematch will not take place until the end of the season on March 4, but it will surely be one to watch in Richmond.
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