George Mason kicked in the door of the conference schedule last night with a 85-60 win over Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia. After toiling in the non-conference part of the 2018-19 campaign, the Patriots surged ahead in the second half with a dominant 20-9 run and stretched the lead as high as 27 in the final minutes.

Justin Kier had another break-out game, imposing his 18 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists on the Hawks. Otis Livingston scored 17 points, leading the takeover of the second half with 7 assists and only 1 turnover. Boyd, Mar and Calixte all had over 10 points each and played with effort and purpose.

Credit where credit is due… the Patriots finally had a night where almost everything fell into place, everyone performed up to expectations (except Jared Reuter), and the ball bounced their way – which has not happened this season. This is especially illustrated by the play of sophomore forward Goanar Mar, who up to this game – hadn’t put forth a complete effort expected of Dave Paulsen’s starters.

There are not many starters in the A10 that average 3 points and 3 rebounds, and Paulsen kept Mar in the lineup for his defense hoping his offense would come around. Livingston found Mar on the three point line in the first two minutes of the game, and he let it fly for an early confidence booster. After 5 points in the first half, he picked up another 3 again from an Otis Livingston assist. Just as important was Mar’s effort in other areas of the game: 4 offensive rebounds, 3 steals and a block.

Ian Boyd continues to be one of the most efficient players on the court. In his 15 minutes of play, Boyd hit three 3’s and went to the stripe 5 times, including a 4 point play resulting from a Charlie Brown Jr. foul that helped position the Patriots for the game deciding run.

Greg Calixte also logged important minutes and 10 points off of the bench. Whenever the Patriots needed a putback – he seemed to be there, and provided depth in the paint defensively.

The Patriots (7-7, 1-0) return home for two games, hosting St. Bonaventure and Davidson this coming week. At the end of this three game stretch, we’ll see where this team stands. Are they the contenders for the A10 crown that many thought they would be?

Game Thread: AT Saint Joseph’s University, Thursday, January 3rd, 7:30 PM, CBSSN

Next Game: Saint Bonaventure University, Sunday, January 6th, 4 PM, NBCSN