Comeback falls short for George Mason in 74-65 loss at Dayton

George MasonGeorge Mason nearly completed an improbable comeback Saturday night in UD Arena but could not quite get over the hump, falling to Dayton 74-65.

Mason trailed by 18 (32-14) in the first half, but used a 30-9 run to take a five-point lead in the second half. The game was tied (63-63) with 2:41 left, but key late field goals by the Flyers won the game for the home team.

It was a remarkable effort for the Green & Gold, who shot 48.1 percent (13-27) in the second half and made 43.5 percent (10-23) of their 3-pointers on the night.

The Flyers, who entered the game making six 3-pointers per contest, nailed 12 and shot 48 percent from deep for the contest. Preseason First Team All-A-10 pick Jalen Crutcher had a team-high 26 points for Dayton.

Four Patriots scored in double figures, led by freshman Tyler Kolek, who scored a team-high 16 points (6-11 FG, 4-9 3pt FG) and dished out three assists. Jordan Miller added 15 points, five rebounds and two assists, while AJ Wilson tallied 13 points (6-12 FG) and two blocks. Javon Greene also chipped in 13 points (3-6 3pt FG) to go along with six rebounds.

The Flyers shot 58 percent from long range in the opening stanza and hit seven first-half 3-pointers to take control early. Dayton led by as many as 18 (32-14), before the Patriots got some stops and started converting on the offensive end. An AJ Wilson jumper cut the Flyer lead to 11 (32-21) and a triple from Kolek with less than a minute to play sent the Patriots into the half down by nine (38-29). In all, Mason closed the first half on a 15-6 run.

With Dayton up 41-29, Mason began its surge back. Seven-straight points from Wilson got it down to 41-36 and a triple from Kolek made it 41-39. Kolek hit a 3-pointer on the next possession to give Mason the lead (42-41) and a driving Miller bucket made it 44-41 at the 15:41 mark. In all, Mason used a 30-9 run to build that advantage.

The Patriots got it up to five at 56-51 and a Josh Oduro jumper kept Mason ahead by that margin (58-53) with 7:55 left. But from there, Mason’s field goal drought lasted nearly four minutes as the Flyers went back up two (61-59) with 4:23 left.

Mason tied it up at 63-63 on a Miller jumper with 2:41 left, but from there, Dayton scored five straight, and a couple late technical fouls on the Patriots pushed the final Flyer advantage to nine.

Mason returns to Fairfax to begin a three-game homestand. The Patriots are scheduled to commence the series with a contest against VCU on Wednesday (January 6), but VCU has paused its activities due to COVID-19 protocols. If the game is played, the 7 p.m. contest against the Rams will air regionally on MASN and be broadcast nationally on ESPN+.


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