George Mason falls in double OT thriller at Saint Louis, 76-74

george masonGeorge Mason (14-8, 4-5) put forth a Herculean effort Wednesday night in Chaifetz Arena but ultimately came up just short, dropping a double overtime contest at Saint Louis, 76-74.

Playing without senior Marquise Moore for the second half and beyond (illness), the Patriots fought hard and made a number of key stops in regulation and overtime. But SLU made just one more play, converting a lay-in at the buzzer in double OT to come away with the win.

“I really give our guys a lot of credit for fighting while we were shorthanded,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “Marquise was battling flu like symptoms and couldn’t go. There was no quit in our guys we just couldn’t get a stop down the stretch. We had a couple looks that didn’t go in. If we continue to play like this and just tighten up our defense we’re going to win some more games. But this one certainly stings.”

Sophomore Otis Livingston II poured in a career-best 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting and made 5-of-7 3-pointers on the night. He also grabbed four rebounds and dished out two assists in 46 minutes.

Jaire Grayer added 16 points (4-9 3pt FG) and grabbed five rebounds in a team-high 47 minutes and redshirt-senior Jalen Jenkins flirted with a double-double, posting 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

The Patriots shot 42.1 percent for the game and limited SLU to 40 percent, including just a 28.6 percent mark (8-28) from 3-point territory.

But the Billikens won the game inside, where they held a 32-12 edge in points in the paint and were +7 (27-20) on the glass in the second half and beyond.

Mason hit three of its first four 3-pointers and led 13-11 at the 13:52 mark of the first half. SLU matched the Patriots punch for punch, hitting five of their first nine triples to re-take the lead at 17-15. From there, Mason held the Billikens without a field goal over the next five minutes and surged ahead by eight (27-19) with 5:31 to go in the half. The 9-0 Patriot run included Moore’s first 3-pointer of the season.

But after that, Mason could not score for the remainder of the period and SLU closed the stanza on an 8-0 run to tie it up (27-27) at the break.

Livingston hit his first two shots of the second half to push the Patriots back up six (38-32). Another field goal drought of more than four minutes by the Patriots allowed SLU to retake the lead at 46-44 with 8:31 to go.

The Billikens extended the edge to five (50-45) with 7:33 left, but from there, the Patriots put together a key 7-0 run to re-take the lead at 52-50 with 4:14 to go. The teams went back and forth from there, with seven lead changes over the next few minutes.

With SLU ahead 59-58 with less than 10 seconds to play in regulation, Ian Boyd made one of two free throws. SLU turned it over on their final possession, forcing overtime.

Livingston hit two big shots in overtime, the second of which gave the Patriots a 64-63 lead with under a minute to go. SLU tied it up on a free throw and Livingston’s last second shot just rimmed out, forcing a second overtime.

Mason scored six of the first seven points of the second overtime – capped by a Grayer 3-pointer – to go up five (70-65) with 3:08 left in the period. The Billikens scored the next four to pull within one (70-69), but again, Livingston nailed a tough shot to put the Patriots back up three (72-69) with 1:30 to go.

A 5-0 run put SLU up two (74-72) with 29 seconds to go, but Justin Kier was fouled and hit two huge free throws with 11 seconds left. From there, Saint Louis’ Mike Crawford hit a tough shot as time expired to send the Billikens home with the win.

The Patriots return home for a matchup with La Salle on Saturday (February 4) at 6 p.m. The game will be televised locally on MASN and streamed nationally on Facebook Live.

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