VCU pulls away from George Mason, 71-57
RICHMOND, Va. (AP)
Briante Weber added 12 points and five steals for the Rams (13-3, 1-0 Atlantic 10), who opened the second half with an 11-2 spurt to extend their lead to 46-36, then scored six in a row after the Patriots had closed to within 52-48 with 8:02 remaining. Juvonte Reddic had nine points and 14 rebounds.
The Patriots (7-8, 0-1), playing their first conference game since joining the Atlantic 10, got 13 points from Bryon Allen, 11 from Patrick Holloway and 10 from Jalen Jenkins. The Patriots also turned the ball over 19 times against the Rams' steady pressure, and VCU turned the takeaways into 18 points.
It was the 50th meeting of the schools, who competed in the Colonial Athletic Association for 17 years before VCU bolted for the Atlantic 10 before last season. The Patriots followed suit this year.
VCU led 35-34 after a frenetic first half, and extended the lead coming out of the intermission. VCU forced four consecutive turnovers during the run, and Rob Brandenberg turned one into a layup, Graham had a three-point play and Weber scored on a layup off a steal. Terrance Shannon's put-back dunk made it 46-36.
Both teams went cold for several minutes and the Patriots were able to close to within 52-48 on Allen's baseline fadeaway, Holloway's 3-pointer and a runner, but the Rams surged again.
The Patriots, who came in averaging 14.7 turnovers per game, tried to minimize the risk by pushing the ball upcourt and attacking the basket, and it worked throughout the first half. They shot better than 70 percent in the first 8 minutes, held the biggest lead of the half at 14-9 and kept it close.
The Patriots got 26 of their 34 first-half points in the paint.