SOUTH KINGSTOWN --- For the second time in as many Atlantic 10 home games, the University of Rhode Island fell flat.

This wasn’t quite on the level of last season’s rancid Senior Night defeat against Saint Joseph’s, but that group of Rams had already secured their immediate future. There was going to be a second straight NCAA Tournament berth later in March, and their names would be etched into the program’s history books.

The returning players and green freshmen recruited to produce URI’s next postseason qualifier still have a long way to go. It couldn’t have been clearer than on Sunday evening at the Ryan Center, as undermanned George Mason walked away with an 84-67 victory.

The Rams missed their first 15 attempts from 3-point range and dropped their home conference opener for the first time since a lost 2014-15 season. The Patriots allowed a 17-point lead to slip all the way to seven before responding down the stretch, mounting a 16-6 run to the finish.

“They beat us for 40 straight minutes today,” URI coach David Cox said. “An embarrassing effort on our behalf. We were outcoached. We were outplayed. We were outworked thoroughly.”

Cyril Langevine’s bucket in the lane made it a 68-61 game with 4:50 left, and URI appeared on the verge of mounting what would have been a special comeback. Justin Kier’s turnaround jumper in the lane and Ian Boyd’s breakaway layup after a steal allowed George Mason to coast down the stretch and send the 5,383 home fans away early.

“Every team knows that we’ve been champions for the last few years, so they’re going to come give us their all every time,” Langevine said. “We’ve just got to go out there with toughness and have the right mentality to play harder and do the little things to help get us the win.”

Kier finished with his sixth double-double in seven games, closing with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He was 8-for-10 from the field, part of a performance that saw the Patriots shoot 51.7 percent from the field. Otis Livingston added 14 points and a game-high seven assists.

Omar Silverio came off the bench to make it five Rams in double figures with 10 points, going 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. His teammates finished 0-for-22 from 3-point range, part of an effort where URI managed to shoot just 41.5 percent from the floor. The Rams were also outscored in the paint, 46-44, by a team who didn’t start a player taller than 6-foot-7.

“We couldn’t contain anybody,” Cox said. “They were getting to every place on the floor they wanted to get, particularly the paint – even the front of the rim.”

With two members of its projected starting lineup sidelined by foot injuries, George Mason (9-8, 3-1) turned to an unused freshman guard for a first-half spark. Jordan Miller made his college debut a memorable one, as the Virginia native led all scorers at halftime with 11 points. Miller’s tip-in on a missed Livingston jumper beat the horn and gave the Patriots a 38-27 lead into the break.

“I told the guys in the locker room the only problem I have is I’ve probably got 100 text messages asking me what the heck I was thinking redshirting Jordan Miller,” George Mason coach Dave Paulsen said. “Coming off his first game, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Goanar Mar and Jaire Grayer looked on from the end of the bench as Miller dominated through his 23 minutes. He was plus-17 in the boxscore compared to a combined minus-28 from Rams’ freshmen Jermaine Harris, Tyrese Martin and Dana Tate. That Miller’s scholarship offers came from programs generally considered below the conference’s level – Towson, Radford, Drexel, High Point and Campbell – mattered little on this night.

Langevine was the lone player for the Rams (8-7, 1-2) who seemed to turn up for the opening 20 minutes. He was well on his way to a ninth double-double of the season by halftime, collecting nine points and nine rebounds. Langevine also sprinkled in three blocked shots and two of the four assists dished out by URI, who shot 12-for-34 from the field.

“I’m not casting blame on anybody,” Cox said. “I’ve got to figure this out. I’ve got to adjust. I’ve got to make sure these guys are absolutely ready.”

bkoch@providencejournal.com

On Twitter: @BillKoch25