By Gabe Hauari
Freshman De’Riante Jenkins scored 15 points, JeQuan Lewis added 13, and Samir Doughty and Jordan Burgess each contributed 10 as VCU defeated George Mason 71-60 in the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament.
Both teams were tied at 32 at halftime, but VCU went on a late 19-4 run in the second half to pull away from the upset-minded Patriots. George Mason was led by Jalen Jenkins, who had 15 points, and got solid contributions from Marquise Moore and Jaire Grayer. Moore had 11 points an 17 rebounds, and Grayer added 13 points.
“I think the first game is the most difficult one to win,” said VCU coach Will Wade. The Rams raced out to a 12-2 lead, but George Mason would not go away without a fight. They shot 38.5% from the field, but made 17-of-22 free throws to keep it close.
Wade gave credit to senior point guard JeQuan Lewis, noting how he took over the game in the final six minutes. “We just ran plays to drive us downhill and get us paint touches,” said Lewis.
George Mason head coach Dave Paulsen was complimentary of his team after the game, saying “I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of a team in defeat.”
“We hope to get an NIT bid. If not, we’ll evaluate some of the other tournaments. We have some time to think it through,” said Paulsen, who also gave seniors Jalen Jenkins and Marquise Moore credit for their play all season.
“We really just became a family out there, that’s what I’ll remember the most,” said Moore.
VCU advances to the semifinals, where they will play the winner of Richmond / George Washington. Tip-off is at 3:30 pm.
Stay tuned to Rams Review for coverage for the A-10 tournament all weekend! Follow us on Twitter @RamsReview and on Instagram @RamsReview for live-tweets and pictures from Pittsburgh!