Instant analysis: GW starts slow, finishes off Mason

Instant analysis: GW starts slow, finishes off Mason
January 25, 2014, 2:15 pm
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(Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

Recap: The first half plan did not involve George Washington's bench playing heavy minutes in the first half. Due to foul trouble and situational circumstance, that's what happened. The script returned to normal after halftime with the Colonials' leading men receiving their normal workload. That meant another unhappy ending for George Mason. 

Power forward Isaiah Armwood and point guard Joe McDonald dominated after slow starts as the George Washington Colonials shot 66.7 from the field in the second half for a 75-69 win over the George Mason Patriots in the first-ever Atlantic 10 matchup between the local programs. 

McDonald and Kevin Larsen each scored 14 points while Armwood had 12 for the Colonials (16-3, 4-1), who trailed much of the first half, but led by as many as 16 in the second half en route to their fourth straight victory. All five starters scored in double figures as Patricio Garino and Maurice Creek each had 11 points in the "Revolutionary Rivalry."

Johnny Williams had a career-high 18 points and Jalen Jenkins posted his second double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Patriots (7-13, 0-6), who have lost seven straight games. George Mason, which led 30-29 at halftime, last lost seven straight regular season games during the 1996-97 campaign.

Armwood, who played only four minutes in the first half after picking up two quick fouls and McDonald went scoreless before halftime. The duo combined for 24 points in the second half and McDonald's layup with 4:20 remaining gave the Colonials their largest lead at 56-40. 

Turning point: Arguably, we could say the first half as George Mason only led 30-29 despite Armwood's foul trouble and limited scoring from GW's starters. Trailing 32-29 early in the second half, the Colonials went on an 18-5 run with Armwood and McDonald scoring the final 13. McDonald's layup capped a stretch of eight straight points and gave GW a 47-37 lead with 12:28 remaining. 

[RELATED: GW's Lonergan warms up to George Mason rivalry]

Patriot power unplugged: GW entered with the stronger interior duo of Armwood and Larsen, but Williams and Jenkins dominated the first half, shooting 9 of 11 from the field with 12 rebounds. Neither attempted a shot for the opening 15 minutes of the second half. Guard and leading scorer Sherrod Wright finished with nine points, but only scored two in the second half.

1st half: Williams went 5 for 5 and combined with Wright and Jenkins to make 12 of 16 shots from the field and score 27 points as the Patriots led 30-29. Garino had nine for the Colonials while Larsen had eight. That pair shot 6 of 9 while everyone else combined 5 of 17. 

Random subbing: Mike Lonergan knew he'd have to dig deeper into his bench in the first game with injured guard Kethan Savage (foot), the Colonials second-leading scorer. Still, the first half scenario was extreme. Before the first TV timeout, Lonergan turned to his bench. The entire bench, swapping in five reserves for five starters and this wasn't about punishment as the Colonials led 10-7 at the time. This was about giving the seldom-used backups some early minutes just in case they were needed later. Turns out they were. Kopriva, who grabbed a season-high six rebounds, and Mikic played 13 minutes in the first half, Cartegna eight. 

Negative trend:  The Patriots have led at halftime in five straight games and trailed by only one point in the sixth. They lost every game. 

History: GW improved to 11-2 in the series. The teams had not met since George Mason's win at the Patriot Center on Dec. 1, 2010. 

Odds and ends: Patrick Holloway scored 11 points for George Mason as the Patriots reserves outscored their counterparts 30-13. ...The Colonials shot 54.7 overall from the field. ...Savage (foot) will miss 6-8 weeks after suffering an injury in last Saturday's game at St. Bonaventure. ...Lamar Butler, one of the heroes from George Mason's 2006 Final Four run, served as honorary captain. ...Both Lonergan and Hewitt wore sneakers in honor of Saturday's national "Coaches versus Cancer" day across college basketball. 

See you soon: The two sides meet at GW's Smith Center on March 2

On deck: George Washington hosts LaSalle in a rematch from earlier this month on Wednesday. George Mason plays at A-10 leading St. Louis on Feb. 1

[RELATED: GW loses 2nd-leading scorer Savage 6-8 weeks