George Mason beats UMass in OT, 78-76

george masonFor the second time in as many games, sophomore Ian Boyd scored at the buzzer to send George Mason home with another incredible, last-second victory.

On Saturday afternoon inside EagleBank Arena, Mason and Massachusetts were tied at 76-76 with five seconds remaining in overtime. Otis Livingston II drove up the floor and threaded a beautiful pass to Boyd on the break.

Boyd laid it in as time expired, and the Green & Gold escaped with a 78-76 victory in overtime.

The win improved the Green & Gold to 8-8 in A-10 play and 14-15 overall. The Patriots sit in sixth place in the Atlantic 10 standings with just two games remaining in the regular season slate.

It’s the Patriots’ fourth win in the last five games. It’s also the second straight last-second triumph after a 79-76 win over Saint Joseph’s Wednesday behind a SportsCenter Top-10 3-pointer from Boyd.

“We didn’t come unglued and we executed what we wanted to do at the end,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “Otis made the unselfish play at the end of the game. Jaire looked back to the Jaire Grayer pre-foot strain and he hit some big shots and rebounded. It’s much better to teach from a win, but we need to keep getting better because I don’t think we’ve maxed out yet.”

The Patriots led by 16 (36-20) at the break, but UMass shot 5.48 percent in the second half and outscored the Green & Gold 44-28 in the stanza. However, the Patriots continued their excellent play in close games down the stretch.

With the Patriots trailing 64-61 at the end of regulation, Goanar Mar was fouled with a second remaining. The wily freshman hit all three pressure-packed free throws to send the game to overtime.

Then, Mason made 6-of-9 shots in the overtime session, highlighted by the Boyd buzzer beater. With the victory, the Green & Gold are now 8-1 in games decided by five points or less this season.

Livingston II led the Green & Gold with a game-high 22 points on 9-20 shooting. He dished out four assists – including the game winner – and grabbed four rebounds in nearly a full game for the junior.

Mar finished with 18 points and seven rebounds while making both of his 3-pointers. He’s averaging 17.0 points over Mason’s last two games.

Junior Jaire Grayer added his eighth double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds while sophomore Justin Kier chipped in 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists.

The Patriots held a +7 (46-39) edge on the glass and a 38-32 advantage in points in the paint. The Green & Gold shot 42.3 percent (11-26) from 3-point range and 45.6 percent overall.

UMass jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the game’s first five minutes, but Mason responded with an 11-2 spurt to take an 11-7 lead at the 13:50 mark of the first half. UMass tied it up at 15-15. Then, Mason answered with a lengthy 21-5 run – highlighted by eight points from Kier – to put the Green & Gold up 36-20 at the half.

Mason held the Minutemen to just 23.5 percent shooting in the stanza.

UMass rocketed out of the gate in the second half and used an 11-0 run to cut the Mason lead to just four (38-34) at the 14:39 mark. The Patriots led 42-38 with 11:57 to go, but Mason pushed it back to eight (48-40) at the 9:36 mark.

The Patriots were up 54-47 with 6:30 left after a 3-pointer from Mar, but the Minutemen scored eight of the next nine points to tie it up at 55-55 with 3:21 to go.

UMass pushed ahead 64-61 with 11 seconds left, but Mar was fouled and hit the free throws to send the game to overtime.

In the extra session, a Boyd jumper pushed Mason ahead 71-67 with 2:39 left and Mason held a 76-72 advantage after a Livingston II jumper with 36 seconds to go.

UMass scored the next four points to tie it at 76-76, before Boyd sent #MasonNation home happy with the game winner.

Mason will play its final A-10 road game of the season Wednesday when the Patriots travel to Richmond to take on VCU. Tip-off between the Patriots and Rams is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will be televised live on MASN.

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