George Mason advances with crazy OT comeback over Fordham

george masonGeorge Mason completed one of the most improbable comebacks in program history Thursday, erasing a 7-point deficit with 37 seconds to play to grab an 82-71 overtime win over Fordham in A-10 second round action.

The Patriots (20-12) trailed 62-55 with under a minute to go, but rallied to tie the game at the regulation buzzer on a Jalen Jenkins lay-in off a great look from Otis Livingston II.

In overtime, Mason took control, posting 17 of the 23 points scored in the extra session to earn the first Atlantic 10 tournament victory in school history. Mason made 6-of-8 field goal attempts in overtime.

With the victory, Mason clinched the 13th 20-win season in program annals and in the process, earned a berth in the A-10 quarterfinals.

The Patriots will battle No. 2 seed VCU on Friday at 6 p.m. on NBCSN.

“This was unbelievable tonight,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been part of that big of a comeback, that late in a game. Everything had to go right for us, and I give our guys a tremendous amount of credit for their grit, for their resolve, for not getting rattled and for making big plays. There were stretches where it was ugly. We’ve had that a few times this season, but whether we play pretty or ugly, we fight every single night.”

Senior Marquise Moore led Mason with a monster effort, tallying a game-high 25 points in addition to a career-best 19 rebounds. The Queens, N.Y., product also tallied five assists and a pair of blocks in 43 minutes on the floor. His 19 rebounds was just one off the A-10 Tournament record of 20, set by Carlin Warley of Saint Joseph’s in 1995.

Livingston added 17 points (6-6 FT) and tied a career high with seven rebounds, while sophomore Jaire Grayer added 15 points, six of which came in the overtime session.

Jenkins posted 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Mason held a commanding 52-22 edge on the glass in the game and turned 17 offensive boards into a 16-4 edge in points off turnovers.

The Patriots jumped out to a 12-2 lead and held an 18-9 edge at the 11:22 mark of the first half. Fordham used an 11-4 run to cut the lead to two (22-20), but the Patriots went back up six (26-20) after two free throws from Kier. Fordham tied it up at 30-30 with 3:14 to go in the stanza, but Mason scored the final five points of the half to take a 35-30 lead into the break.

Moore surged to the hoop on consecutive drives to begin the second half, pushing the Patriots in front by nine (39-30). Fordham fought back with a 12-3 run to tie the game at 42-42 with 10:57 to play.

Mason led 49-48 after a 3-pointer from Grayer with 6:48 to go, but from there, the Rams made a run. Fordham used a 12-3 spurt to build a 60-53 lead with 2:47 left.

The Rams led 62-55 with 1:01 to go, but at that point, the Mason magic began.

Moore hit a big 3-pointer to cut it to four (62-58) with 36 seconds remaining, then after Fordham free throws made it 64-58, the Patriots got it back to three (64-61) on a triple by Livingston with 23 seconds to go.

After Fordham missed its second front end of the one-and-one in the final minute, Moore converted a quick lay-in to cut it to one (64-63) at the 15 second mark.

Fordham’s Chris Sengfelder hit one of two free throws on the other end (65-63) and with seven seconds left, Moore was fouled, but missed both free throw attempts.

Justin Kier grabbed the offensive board and Mason called timeout with three seconds on the clock. Livingston drove into the lane, then dished it to Jenkins, who laid it in as time expired.

In overtime, Moore hit a jumper, then Grayer nailed a triple to put Mason up 72-67 just 44 seconds into overtime. Another jumper from Grayer and 3-pointer from Kier gave Mason an 81-69 lead with 1:03 to go, and from there, the Patriots wrapped up the amazing comeback.


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