George Mason played harder than the Penn State men’s basketball team Wednesday night.
The Patriots, led by athletic 6-foot-2 guard Marquise Moore, outrebounded the Nittany Lions by 15 and dominated the battle in the paint. George Mason outdid Penn State on the fast break and outscored the Nittany Lions by 20 in the second half in an 85-66 win at the Bryce Jordan Center.
“They definitely played harder tonight and that’s not something I’m happy about,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said.
Moore finished with 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to record his sixth double-double this season. Otis Livingston, a 5-foot-11 guard, added 18 points, and 6-foot-7 forward Jalen Jenkins had 15 points for the Patriots (7-3).
Chambers praised Moore and Jenkins for their toughness after Penn State’s loss.
The Patriots outscored Penn State (6-4) 44-16 on points in the paint and 14-2 on the fast break.
Moore was a factor in both categories. The guard finished drives throughout the night and consistently created transition opportunities for himself.
“They just kind of just drove it right down the lane every single time in transition, and we just were not ready for that type of pace,” said Penn State’s Payton Banks, who scored 16 of his team-high 21 points in the first half. “And that’s frustrating because that’s what we pride ourself in is being quick, fast and being able to defend that.”
Moore keyed a 10-0 run to help George Mason start to pull away in the second half.
Moore converted a tough finish on a drive as he fell to the floor with Banks guarding him to kickstart the run, giving the Patriots a 59-53 lead with less than nine minutes to play. He later dribbled under the rim and searched for a teammate along the perimeter, finding Jaire Grayer for a 3-pointer to push the lead to 11 — the largest of the game to that point — with less than eight minutes left.
Moore assisted on another 3 by Karmari Newman before Shep Garner ended the run with a pair of free throws.
George Mason cruised to victory in the second half after a back-and-forth first half that featured 12 lead changes.
The Nittany Lions led 38-37 at halftime, but they couldn’t match George Mason’s intensity in the final 20 minutes.
Chambers said his players can’t let turnovers and missed shots and fouls affect them, and they’ll learn from the loss.
“That’s why with them, I’m not freaking out because it’s correctable,” Chambers said. “These are all fixable things that we can get better at, that we can control.”
Notes: Lamar Stevens and Garner each had 13 points for Penn State. Stevens led the team with eight rebounds. ... After missing two straight games due to a sprained ankle, Davis Zemgulis played four minutes Wednesday night. ... Penn State faces Pitt at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Newark, N.J., in the Never Forget Tribute Classic.