Marquise Moore collected another rebound because, although 6 feet 2, he plays like he is 6-8. Otis Livingston II made another free throw without interruption because, since the second game of the season, he hasn’t missed.
Leaving the game in the first half, Karmari Newman startled referee Sean Hull with a high-five because, well, he is a freshman.
When the only question was whether George Mason would score 100 against Longwood on Monday, the starters hooted and hollered and waved towels from the sideline in support of the subs because, these days, the Patriots are having a whole lot of fun.
It’s been awhile.
After three consecutive 20-loss seasons, Dave Paulsen’s bunch has won eight straight, the latest a 97-60 romp over the in-state Lancers. It’s the longest streak since the 2010-11 squad ran off 16 in a row during Jim Larranaga’s final season.
These Patriots (9-3) are young and small and sometimes a little wild and naive, but they play hard and play together. The victories have followed — easy ones like Monday’s, quality road feats against Northern Iowa and Penn State, and a good neutral-site notch against Kent State.
“We’re loose, but we’re also serious,” said Livingston, a sophomore point guard from Linden, N.J. “When you’re winning, it’s a lot of fun.”
The season didn’t start that way as the Patriots lost at home to Towson and Mount St. Mary’s and struggled for a half against Division III Lebanon Valley. Paulsen wasn’t quite sure when performances and results would begin to turn.
“When your livelihood rests in the hands of 18-, 19-, 20-year-old males, you never really know,” said Paulsen, in his second season in Fairfax. “I was very optimistic going into the season. The progress we made in the initial stages was a little slower than I hoped, and then some of this development in the last month is probably a little quicker than I anticipated.”
Monday’s box score reflected Mason’s growth and balance: Moore joined Livingston and sophomore Jaire Grayer in scoring 17 points apiece. Freshman starter Justin Kier added 12 as the Patriots began a four-game homestand by building a 20-point halftime lead and registering their largest margin of victory in almost eight years.
Moore is not only Mason’s top player, but its most intriguing. With 17 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists Saturday at Penn, the senior from Queens recorded the first triple-double in program history and became one of seven players nationally in the last 20 years to go for at least 15-15-10.
Moore leads all guards in rebounding and, among players in every position, he began the night fourth in defensive rebounds. He averaged a notable 6.1 last season. On Monday, he fell two rebounds short of an eighth double-double.
Meanwhile, Livingston went 7 for 7 from the free throw line, improving his streak to 30. He has made 37 of 38 overall.
When a reporter began asking Livingston about foul shots, the superstitious Paulsen interrupted.
“Stop!” he said with a grin. “Make him stop. You are banned. Next question. You ever been to a baseball game? You probably yell no-hitter too.”
After a pause, Livingston turned to his coach and asked, “You serious?”
Yes, he was. He doesn’t want anything to mess with the good vibes wafting through EagleBank Arena.
Since the slow start, the Patriots have made 51 percent of three-pointers and 78.5 percent of free throws. On Monday, they hit 10 of 23 threes and 29 of 33 from the line. Grayer had five steals, and Livingston added three.
The Patriots made quick work of the Lancers (2-6), who on Friday lost by 55 points at Creighton. Livingston, Moore and Grayer combined for 40 of the 50 first-half points.
Moore roared to the basket for a pair of three-point plays. Kier swished three-pointers on consecutive possessions from almost the same spot on the wing, and Grayer followed with one of his own while under pressure in the corner for a 32-12 lead.
Moore’s ability to penetrate freed Livingston for an open three-pointer, and Grayer connected again for a 50-23 advantage.
The Lancers responded with a 16-3 surge bridging halftime. Paulsen huffed and puffed. By midway through the second half, the lead had eclipsed 30.
“You can see where it’s headed,” Athletic Director Brad Edwards said. “You see the improvement, you see the effort. Dave is a teacher. It’s progressive, layered learning and repetition, repetition, repetition.”
Just like the results.