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Mason jars Eagles
Georgia Southern forward Briana Jones, left, finds herself surrounded by Georgie Mason's Talisha Watts, center, and Janaa Pickard after grabbing an offensive rebound during the second half at Hanner Fieldhouse Monday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Southern Conference Basketball Standings
Team                SoCon  All
Chattanooga            2-0    10-3
Davidson            2-0    5-8
Western Carolina    1-0    7-5
Furman            1-1    7-6
Elon            1-1    5-7
Samford            1-1    3-9
Georgia Southern    1-1    3-10
Appalachian State    0-1    2-8
UNC Greensboro        0-2    4-9
Wofford            0-2    2-10

Monday's Scores   
    Tulsa 76, UNC Greensboro 71
    George Mason 85, Georgia Southern 64

    An opportunistic first half kept Georgia Southern within striking distance, but George Mason exploded for 51 second-half points and ran away from the Eagles in an 85-64 win on Monday at Hanner Fieldhouse.
    The game was fought mostly in the paint, with the Patriots (6-7) getting 47 points under the basket. Janaa Pickard led the frontcourt with 19 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Talisha Watts also double-doubled, with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Point guard Taylor Brown had 19 points and a game-high nine assists.
    The Eagles (3-10) were led down low by forward Briana Jones, who finished the game with 15 points and eight boards. Sierra Kirkland added nine points and six rebounds.
    “Both of those guys did a good job and our team did a better job of finding them,” GSU coach Chris Vozab said about Jones and Kirkland. “We’re trying not to just be a jump-shooting team. We’ve got some taller post players, and we’re trying to utilize them. They played to their strengths.”
MiMi DuBose led GSU in scoring with 16 points, and guard Anna Claire Knight, the team’s leading scorer on the season, added 12.
    As bad as the Eagles shot the ball in the first half —they hit just 28 percent from the floor and missed each of their first eight 3-point attempts — they trailed George Mason only 34-33 at the half, due in large part to the free-throw line.
    Mason committed 13 fouls in the first 20 minutes and GSU made 10 of its 15 attempts from the line. Mason committed only five second-half fouls and didn’t send the Eagles to the line at all.
    “We just attacked them in the first half when they were in man or zone,” DuBose said. “In the second half I think we just took our foot off the gas as far as trying to get to the rim and the free throw line. They were doing that to us at the other end, and I think that was the biggest difference in the game.”
    The Patriots led by as many as eight in the opening half when a pair of free throws by Cierra Srtickland put GMU ahead 34-26, but the Eagles closed the period on a 7-0 run. A DuBose layup was followed by GSU’s first 3 of the game, a bomb by Knight, and George Mason gifted the Eagles a pair of free throws with a fraction of a second remaining when Angel McGowan was fouled by Kyana Jacobs after a defensive rebound by Jessica Marcus.
    McGowan made both foul shots before halftime.
    Mason struck first, as the Patriots out-rebounded GSU 8-3 in a game-opening, 11-4 run. The Eagles were out-rebounded 56-39 in the game.
    “It wasn’t their size that got us,” Jones said. “I think that we let them get into the paint too much. We can’t make excuses for them being big in the paint. We’ve just got to step up to that challenge.”
    The Eagles open Southern Conference play on the road at Chattanooga on Jan. 4, at 7 p.m. 
NOTES: GSU lost 54-53 in the only other meeting between the two teams on Dec. 29, 2012, in the Patriot Center. … GSU is now 2-3 on at home. … GSU came into the game coming off a seven-day break over Christmas. … DuBose now has 154 3-pointers in her GSU career. She needs nine more to match Alie Rousseau for second all time in program history. … DuBose is also 17 points away from 1,000 for her career.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.