Men’s Basketball Rolls Past George Mason 80-59

Loyola — who remains tied for first place in the Atlantic 10 with the win — came into the game 19-7 and 11-2 in conference play.

The Loyola men’s basketball team treated a sold out crowd in Gentile Arena to an 80-59 trouncing of George Mason University Feb. 24 as the Ramblers extended their winning streak to seven games. 

Graduate guard Braden Norris helped lead the winning effort with 10 points and eight assists. Fourth-year forward Philip Alston added 10 points while graduate forward Dame Adelekun finished with nine points despite early foul trouble. Graduate forward Amari Kelly led George Mason with 19 points and five rebounds. 

Loyola — who remains tied for first place in the Atlantic 10 with the win — came into the game 19-7 and 11-2 in conference play following a 77-67 win on the road against the University of Rhode Island Feb. 18. The 18-8 Patriots made the trip to Chicago riding high after defeating No. 16 University of Dayton 71-67 Feb. 21 to improve to 7-6 in A-10 competition.

The Ramblers got off to a hot start going up 7-2 after first-year center Miles Rubin got loose for a dunk and fourth-year guard Sheldon Edwards connected on a 3-pointer. 

George Mason didn’t succumb to the pressure of the home crowd and responded with an 8-0 run to take a 10-7 lead into the first official timeout. First-year guard Baraka Okojie kicked it off when he intercepted a Rambler pass and took it all the way to the rim before Kelly knocked down a 3-pointer. 

Graduate forward Patrick Mwamba hit a deep mid-range jumper and Rubin scored in the post to tie it up at 11-11. The Ramblers took hold with a 12-0 run propelled by a Norris breakaway layup off a steal. A lane opened up for graduate forward Tom Welch who finished at the rim to extend the lead to 17-11, and third-year guard Des Watson hit a jumper from the corner of the key making it 19-11. 

Fourth-year Patriot guard Darius Maddox provided a spark for George Mason with a 3-pointer, but Norris came right back on the other end and drained his own step-back 3, keeping Loyola ahead 22-14. 

Second-year guard Jayden Dawson extended the lead after getting to the rim for a driving layup. Then, he knocked down a 3-pointer from the wing, forcing the Patriots into timeout down 27-16. 

The Ramblers picked up right where they left off after Norris forced a steal and threw it up court to Welch for a fast break slam. Welch hit Watson cutting towards the rim where he posterized first-year George Mason guard Austin Ball, increasing the lead to 31-18. 

Rubin was set up to score inside by graduate guard Greg Dolan. Then, on the next Rambler possession, Rubin hit Watson cutting to the rim for another huge dunk as Loyola led 35-21.

Third-year Patriot guard Jarden Billups scored from the paint, making it 37-25. With time ticking down in the first half, Rubin blocked second-year Patriot guard Keyshawn Hall’s shot. Kelly managed to finish downlow as Norris added on one at the line and the teams entered the halftime break with the Ramblers ahead 41-27.

Edwards and Maddox traded 3-pointers to start the second half before Maddox got a second-chance layup to fall as the Patriots tried to get back into the game, down 46-34. Alston brought the crowd to their feet with a pull-up 3-pointer, making it 51-34. 

Dolan forced the Patriots to use their last timeout with over 13 minutes to play after he connected on back-to-back threes, extending the lead to 57-34. Maddox banked in a reverse layup while second-year guard Jalen Quinn got going downhill and finished with a perfect touch off the glass. 

Loyola went up 64-36 when Adelekun threw a lob to Alston. Graduate George Mason guard Tre Wood banked a 3-pointer off the glass as the Patriots strung together a 11-3 run to tighten the game at 67-45. Adelekun cut the momentum short after getting a shot in the paint to go through a foul. He converted on the free throw to put the Ramblers up 70-45. 

With just over two minutes left to play, Loyola head coach Drew Valentine put his bench in. Redshirt first-year guard Trey Lewis got a 3-pointer to fall as the Ramblers closed out George Mason 80-59. 

Norris said after the game, despite the now seven game win streak, the team is staying focused on just taking it day by day. 

“Our mindset is, we’re gonna come in tomorrow, we’re gonna watch some film and just get better,” he said. “That’s all we have to focus on. I think all of us know what the big picture is right now, but we just gotta keep our head down, stay together and keep getting better.”

Valentine said he thought the team utilized the atmosphere brought on by the sold out crowd in a positive way. 

“I thought we were extremely intense, I thought we were high energy,” he said. “When there was time to make a big momentum play, I thought we had better discipline than we’ve had in the past. Just really proud of our group and how far we’ve come and how far we’ve grown.”

Loyola outrebounded the Patriots 35 to 31 while separating themselves in the assist game finishing with 24 to George Mason’s 11. The Ramblers took better care of the ball, only giving up 12 turnovers while the Patriots surrendered 15. 

Next up, the Ramblers travel to upstate New York where they will take on the Bonnies of St. Bonaventure University Tuesday, Feb. 27. First-tip is scheduled for 6 p.m. and fans can stream the game on ESPN+ or catch it on the radio on Rambler Sports Network.

Featured image by Austin Hojdar | 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.