Edwards’ Career-High 27 Leads Ramblers Past George Mason 85-79

Men’s basketball continued their Atlantic-10 conference streak with a 85-79 win against George Mason University.

Loyola men’s basketball extended their Atlantic 10 winning streak with a 85-79 comeback victory on the road against George Mason University Feb. 7. 

Fourth-year guard Sheldon Edwards led the Ramblers with a career-high 27 points and five steals. Supporting Edwards were third-year guard Des Watson and fourth-year forward Philip Alston both finishing with 14 points. Second-year guard Keyshawn Hall led the way for the Patriots with 20 points and eight rebounds. 

Loyola made the trip to Fairfax, Virginia sitting at 15-7 overall and 7-2 in A-10 play after defeating Davidson College 76-63 Feb. 4. George Mason entered play 15-7 overall and 4-5 in-conference. 

Fourth-year Patriot guard Ronald Polite opened the contest with a 3-pointer, but Edwards came right back and tied it with one of his own. Watson forced a steal and took it all the way for a transition layup before graduate guard Braden Norris drained a 3-pointer. Responding 3s from third-year guard Jared Billups and fourth-year forward Darius Maddox gave the Patriots an 11-8 advantage. 

George Mason added three points at the free-throw line and Polite drained a mid-range jumper to cap off a 12-0 Patriots run. Watson stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer, cutting the Loyola deficit to 18-11. 

Polite finished at the rim before Edwards connected on a corner 3 as George Mason maintained a 20-14 lead. First-year center Miles Rubin jammed home a second-chance dunk, Watson scored inside and Alston converted an and-one to make it a one-point game at 20-19. 

The Patriots responded with a 8-0 run including five free throws as they assumed a 28-19 lead. The teams traded successful trips to the line while Edwards hit another three to make it 30-25. First-year guard Baraka Okojie spurred a George Mason run with two free throws and a driving layup, giving his team a double digit lead at 35-25. 

The teams went back-and-forth with scores until Alston drained an open 3-pointer and Edwards knocked in a mid-range jumper to cut the lead to five at 39-34. Hall and Watson then traded scores inside. As the final seconds of the half ticked away, fourth-year Patriot guard Darius Maddox made a deep last-second three giving George Mason a 44-36 lead at the break. 

Alston opened scoring in the second half inside and found Rubin underneath for a dunk. Rubin drew a foul on the play and made the free throw to make it a one-possession game at 44-41. A few possessions later Edwards found Rubin for a flashy one-hand jam but Hall and Polite kept the Patriots on track with scores inside as they maintained a 48-45 lead.

Edwards made a free throw after a technical foul was called on the George Mason bench during an official timeout. Watson then connected on a 3-pointer to give Loyola its first lead of the opening minutes at 49-48.

Hall converted on an and-one play and Maddox banked in a floater to give George Mason the lead right back. Both squads turned in successful trips to the line while Alston made a driving layup and Adelekun scored underneath to bring the Ramblers within two at 57-55. 

Adelekun dropped in another inside to even it up but the Patriots made three free-throws to hold onto the lead. Edwards tied it with a 3-pointer but Hall responded with one of his own. Rubin tied it back up at 63-63 after converting an and-one. 

It stayed tight as Hall and Alston both made two free throws before Okojie and Edwards traded 3-pointers as it stayed knotted at 68. Out of a Loyola timeout, Edwards drained a deep three and Alston scored inside, giving the Ramblers a five point lead with just under four minutes to play.

Hall cut into the lead with a 3-pointer, but Adelekun responded by taking it himself and scoring underneath giving the Ramblers a 75-71 lead. Hall made a turn-around fade in the paint to make it a two point game but on the other end, Norris found himself open in the corner and hit the 3 putting Loyola up 78-73 with a minute and half left.

Edwards and Watson added to their scoring totals after picking up intentional fouls as the Ramblers held on down the stretch and closed it out 85-79, picking up their third straight win. 

The Patriots outrebounded Loyola 28 to 18 while the Ramblers picked up 14 assists to George Mason’s nine. Loyola kept good care of the ball as they only surrendered six turnovers while the Patriots gave the ball up 17 times. Loyola was able to come out on top despite being outshot 59% to 50%. 

Ramblers head coach Drew Valentine said he was happy to see Edwards’ stand-out performance after the work he has put in being a good teammate all season.

“His mindset has changed, and he’s a guy we recruited for a reason,” Valentine said. “He’s had to be patient. I am proud Sheldon was prepared for the moment. He is an incredibly valued piece of this program.”

Next up the Ramblers welcome Saint Joseph’s University to Gentile Arena Wednesday, Feb. 14. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and fans can catch the game streamed on NBC Sports Chicago+ and live on Rambler Sports Network radio.

Featured image by Krisjanis Kaugars | The Phoenix

Griffin Krueger

Griffin Krueger

Griffin Krueger is the Editor-in-Chief of The Phoenix. He began working for The Phoenix during his first week at Loyola and previously served as Assistant News Editor and Sports Editor. Krueger is a fourth-year Political Science major with minors in Economics and History. In his free time he enjoys reading and exploring the city on his bike.