BROOKLYN – Saint Louis got it done on both ends of the court in one of their most impressive performances of the season as they won 82-54, eliminating George Mason and advancing to the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Saint Louis will face VCU on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. VCU dispatched Davidson earlier in the day 71-53.
As to be expected, junior guard Yuri Collins was the engine behind Saint Louis’ offensive attack. He dished out 10 assists, and led the way to the Billikens setting a season high, and tying the all time A-10 Tournament record with 26 team assists.
“At halftime we had multiple guys with two assists or more, we know Yuri [Collins] is going to have a lot, with everybody sharing the ball a little bit, we got some options,” said Saint Louis Head Coach Travis Ford. “I thought offensively that was the difference.”
Redshirt sophomore guard Gibson Jimerson led the scoring charge for the Billikens, pouring in 21 points. He also added four assists to contribute to the team’s historical passing night. Javon Pickett, who was recently inserted into the starting lineup by Head Coach Travis Ford, contributed 13 points, with 11 of those coming in the first half.
The bench, headlined by sophomore guard Sincere Parker, senior forward Jake Forrester, and freshman guard Larry Hughes Jr., was a significant factor in Saint Louis’ dominant showing. The reserves combined for 26 points, with Parker scoring 10 and Forrester adding nine. Hughes Jr. was the Billikens second leading assist man behind Collins, collecting a career high five dimes.
While Saint Louis’ offense was impressive, they put together their best defensive performance of the season, completely shutting down George Mason’s offense. 54 points was the fewest they’ve given up to a division one opponent all season.
Earlier in the year, Saint Louis and Geroge Mason played a much closer game, with the Billikens narrowly winning 63-62.
Collins spoke on what he thought was the difference with this game that allowed Saint Louis to create so much more separation with George Mason.
“We played aggressive and we didn’t do that last game,” said Collins. “We had a different game plan which was to be more aggressive and that’s what we did.”
George Mason started out the game hot, nailing three quick shots from behind the arc and then pounding Saint Louis in the paint. Once the score was knotted at 25-25 with 6:50 left in the first half, the wheels fell off for the Patriots. Saint Louis went on a 19-5 run to end the first half, and never looked back.
The second half wasn’t any better for George Mason. They couldn’t crack Saint Louis’ zone defense, and were consistently dismantled by the Billikens’ passing.
For George Mason, senior forward Josh Oduro was their leading scorer. He totaled 15 points, and also led the Patriots with five assists.
George Mason looks to return a majority of their team next year. Both Oduro and senior guard Ticket Gaines have another year of eligibility.
This was the final game of grad guard Devon Cooper’s career, as he has exercised all of his eligibility. Cooper ended the night with 10 points, two assists, and three rebounds.
If Oduro and Gaines elect to stay another year in Fairfax, George Mason could be very dangerous next year. They would join junior guard Ronald Polite III, freshman guards Justyn Fernandez and Devin Dinkins, junior forward Malik Henry, and sophomore forward Blake Jones.