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Rhode Island grabs big win at George Mason behind Stanford Robinson’s homecoming outburst

The Indiana transfer was instrumental in Rhode Island’s victory

NCAA Basketball: Hall of Fame Tip Off-Rhode Island at Duke David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

FAIRFAX -- The sections of EagleBank Arena directly behind the visitor’s bench are usually home to a few lingering away fans after each George Mason game.

On Saturday, that scene was a little different.

About a half hour after Rhode Island snapped a two-game losing streak by holding on for a 77-74 victory over the Patriots, it was difficult to tell that the actual game had ended.

What looked like nearly 100 people were still patiently standing around in sections 103 and 104 to get in some face time with the victorious Rams before they headed back to Kingston.

Freshman Jeff Dowtin and junior transfer Stanford Robinson both call the DMV area home and both had plenty of friends and family in attendance as the Rams improved to 17-9 overall and 9-5 in the Atlantic 10. The win also shot some life back into their NCAA Tournament chances.

Robinson, who played his first three years of high school basketball just three miles down the road at Paul the VI, had a career-high 21 points in just 21 minutes off the bench.

“It’s an amazing feeling knowing that I went to school down the street and coming back and being able to put on a performance like that,” Robinson said after the game.

After playing his first two seasons at Indiana, Robinson sat out last year, and has yet to crack Dan Hurley’s starting lineup through 26 games. Robinson’s 21 points easily surpassed his season-high of 13, and were four better than the 17 he scored three years ago for the Hoosiers in a game against Iowa.

Robinson had scored a combined total of 19 points over the last seven games and registered double-figures just five times this season.

“I just want to thank my teammates for encouraging and pushing me and giving me the momentum to do something like that,” he said. “Hats off to them and the coaches.”

Robinson set career highs with three three-pointers, five made field goals, and by going 8-for-11 from the free throw line although he did miss his final two with a chance to salt the game away in the dying moments. It’s a fact not lost on his coach.

“We were 20 for 26 [from the line] going into the last two and Stan wanted to keep that interesting,” Hurley said.

Dotwin’s steady performance was also of note as he joined Hurley and Robinson at the podium for the post game press conference.

“We had a lot of family and friends so we wanted to put on a show,” said Dotwin, who attended St. John’s in DC last season. “We just wanted to make them proud.”

“Obviously we’re fortunate to recruit a guy like Jeff Dotwin who’s kept this thing afloat and established himself as one of the best young players in the conference,” Hurley said.

He added: “Seven points, seven assists, no turnovers and tremendous defensively on Otis, who’s also a heck of a player.”

The aforementioned Otis Livingston had nine points on a tough 2-for-13 shooting performance.

Jalen Jenkins had a game-high 22 points while Marquise Moore added his 17th double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, as George Mason (18-9, 8-6) saw its four-game winning streak come to an end. The Patriots trailed by as many as 18 in the second half before briefly taking the lead with 1:01 remaining.

Quick Start: Rhode Island came into Saturday with the second-fewest made threes in the league behind only George Mason, but made four of its first five threes on Saturday. The Rams shot 54 percent from long distance in the first 20 minutes, making seven.

“That start got us going,” Hurley said. “We got out early, pretty good control of the game but then we had to deal with the quality that coach Paulsen has put together here in a short amount of time.”

Back in the Mix: Things didn’t go well during the week as the Rams lost their second straight game and scored only 43 points against Fordham.

“The Fordham game was just a train wreck from beginning to end,” Hurley said bluntly.

Rhode Island improved on Saturday across the board, as it now sits square on the bubble with an RPI of 53 and a KenPom of 55.

Honored: Jalen Jenkins was honored in a pregame ceremony with AD Brad Edwards and coach Dave Paulsen after joining George Mason’s 1,000-point club in a Valentine’s Day win over Richmond. Jenkins was the 35th player to do so for the Patriots.