If it weren’t for Paris Bennett and Patrick Holloway, the NCAA would have been perfectly justified in placing a call to Patriot Center early in the second half Thursday and asking George Mason and Old Dominion to call it a night.
There were 42 turnovers and two missed dunks. A player fouled out in nine minutes. The Patriots’ leading scorer had one point. The teams combined for nine turnovers on 12 possessions shortly after halftime. The game officials, perhaps feeling the pressure of the NCAA supervisor being in attendance, whistled 50 fouls.
Bennett and Holloway came off the bench to rescue both their team and the unsightly game, combining for 28 points as George Mason rolled to a 71-46 victory.
The Patriots’ reserves outscored their counterparts 58-9. Bennett, a junior forward who had scored six points all season, made all six field goal attempts and finished with a career-high 13 points, while Holloway, The Post’s All-Met player of the year at Paul VI last season, scored 15, two shy of his freshman best.
The pair hit as many shots as the entire ODU team (12).
“Our depth obviously saved us, especially Patrick and Paris,” Mason Coach Paul Hewitt said.
Bolstered by Bennett, who didn’t play in the first half, the Patriots (9-6, 2-1 Colonial Athletic Association) shot 18 of 24 after intermission and finished at 57.7 percent. He and Holloway more than offset an off-night by junior guard Sherrod Wright, who was averaging 18.2 points but missed all five shots and finished with a lone free throw.
The Monarchs (2-14, 0-4) shot 20 percent in the second half and finished with the worst accuracy in program history (25 percent). They committed 24 turnovers and posted just two assists.
With ODU trailing 30-22, “I got to the locker room at halftime, looked at the stat sheet and I was like, Geez, that’s not so bad for being down eight,” Coach Blaine Taylor said.
It got bad quickly.
The Monarchs, in their final season in the CAA, didn’t get off a shot in the first 4½ minutes of the second half and needed about 8½ to make their first basket of the half. Bennett scored eight points in about four minutes and inspired the Patriots with his energy and actions.
“Coach always tells me to be ready because on any given day, the way you play can decide a lot,” he said. On this night, it did.
Hewitt turned to Bennett in part because starter Erik Copes was slowed by a hip injury.
“He made a case today, even when Erik is there, he should be playing more,” Hewitt said. “He has a chance to really be one of the leaders. It’s best when your players correct themselves instead of a coach always having to come in and [they] hear the same voice whining at them all the time. So we need him to do more of that in addition to playing the way he did tonight.”
Holloway was pretty good too. He had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting in the first half and enjoyed his finest performance since scoring 17 against Maryland a month ago.
“The more I play, I am getting more comfortable with the guys on the floor,” he said, “and they’re getting more comfortable with me.”
The Patriots will visit UNC Wilmington (5-10, 0-3) on Saturday afternoon.