George Mason drops heartbreaker to Duquesne, 79-78

george masonGeorge Mason (15-12, 9-5) got off to a great start on Homecoming Saturday but could not put together a complete performance, dropping a tough 79-78 contest to visiting Duquesne inside EagleBank Arena.

Before a great crowd of 7,309, Mason fed off the energy early to go up by 19 (33-12) midway through the first half. Duquesne cut it to eight at the half (42-34) and kept inching its way back. The Dukes made key shots down the stretch and scored the final four points of the game. Mason had a chance to win it on the final possession, but the last-second attempt from Jarred Reuter just rimmed out.

Mason and Duquesne now share matching 9-5 A-10 records and are tied with St. Bonaventure for the fourth-best mark in the conference.

“That one really stinks,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “I thought the game was decided near the end of the first half where we got sloppy and casual with the lead. We got up and we tried to hit the knockout punch. We need to show maturity. There’s no such thing as a knock-out punch in basketball. When you give a good team like Duquesne a sense of life, then you’re going to be in for what we had in the second half.”

Mason limited Duquesne to just 35.7 percent (10-280 in the first half, but the Dukes countered with a 53.1 percent mark (17-32) in the second. The Patriots shot 53.6 percent (15-28) in the final stanza but could not counter the Dukes over the final minute of play.

Senior Otis Livingston II led the Patriots with 18 points (4-9 3pt FG) and fished out a game-high five assists in the contest, while sophomore Javon Greene added 18 points (7-11 FG), six rebounds, three assists and two steals in 35 minutes. With Livingston II’s third point of the game, he became the fourth player in Mason history to tally 1800 points in a career.

Junior Justin Kier chipped in 14 points and seven rebounds, and freshman Jordan Miller grabbed a career-best 10 offensive rebounds (11 total boards) while finishing with nine points. Redshirt-junior Jarred Reuter notched nine points, six rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes.

Mason made six of its first nine shots and rocketed out of the gate to lead 17-2 just six minutes into the game. That run included a pair of 3-pointers from Livingston II. Duquesne cut it to 11 (19-8), but the Patriots used a 6-0 run to extend the edge to 19 (31-12) after a 3-pointer from Greene at the 9:03 mark. Mason led 38-24 with 4:02 to go in the stanza, but Duquesne closed the half on a 10-4 spurt to take a 42-34 lead into the break.

The Patriots got the lead back to 10 (46-36) at the 17:42 mark of the second half, but Duquesne used a 6-0 spurt to move within four (46-42). The Dukes were within one (54-53) with 11:41 to go, but Mason ripped off five-straight, including a nice jumper from Jamal Hartwell II, to go back up six (59-53) at the 9:04 mark.

A 3-pointer from Livingston II kept Mason ahead by five (66-61) with 7:08 to go. With the Patriots leading 70-66, Duquesne made its move, scoring five-straight to take its first lead of the game (71-70) with 4:53 left.

Mason quickly went back up two (73-71) on a triple from Greene and led by one (76-75) after Kier nailed a 3-pointer with 2:37 to go.

Greene converted a jumper with 1:57 left to make it 78-75, but that’s the last time the Patriots would score. Frankie Hughes hit a big 3-pointer to tie the game at 78. Then, Michael Hughes was fouled with 57 seconds left and made the game-winning free throw. The Patriots could not score on their final two possessions. Mason had a good look at the end, but a well-placed shot from Reuter rimmed out.

Mason remains at home for the second of two contests this season against the Richmond Spiders. Tip-off Wednesday (Feb. 27) is set for 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN+.

 
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