George Mason rallies past Saint Joseph’s, wins in 2OTs, 87-85
After opening league play with a 93-92, double overtime win at UMass, Mason (7-6, 3-4 A-10) continued its extra session fortitude Wednesday. The Patriots held off a number of late Hawk rallies and won the game with grit and tenacity from their upperclassmen.
Senior Javon Greene led Mason with a season-best 25 points to go along with nine rebounds and four steals, while redshirt-senior AJ Wilson aded 14 points and a season-best six blocks, including one that saved the Patriots at the end of regulation.
“I have to give our guys credit because we missed some shots we usually make. We got some good looks, but struggled at the free throw line. Despite that our guys didn’t panic,” Mason coach Dave Paulsen said. “We had lapses, but guys on Saint Joe’s also made plays and hit some tough shots. We executed and found a way to win when we didn’t have our A-game. Saint Joe’s record is incredibly deceiving. They’ve played a murderer’s row of a schedule. That’s a talented team.”
Sophomore Josh Oduro added the second double-double of his career with 14 points and 13 rebounds (including eight offensive), and junior Jordan Miller recorded 17 points, six rebounds and two assists.
Mason shot 43 percent for the game, but made just 15-of-27 free throws (.556), allowing the Hawks (1-11, 0-6 A-10) to claw back in it on a number of occasions down the stretch.
SJU made 13 3-pointers, but the Patriots forced 19 Hawk turnovers and held a +11 (51-40) edge on the glass. The Patriots grabbed 19 offensive boards and turned those into a +10 edge (19-9) in second chance points.
The Patriots led 14-11 at the 12:06 mark of the first half after a jumper from Miller and led by that margin (21-18) after a Kolek triple at 7:30. A 10-0 run by the Hawks pushed the visitors ahead 28-21, but five straight from the Patriots moved Mason back within two at 28-26. The Hawks took a 34-30 advantage into the break.
The Patriots came out of half and quickly tied it up at 37-37, before using a 6-0 spurt to go up 43-37 at 14:59. A Jamal Hartwell II 3-pointer extended the Mason lead to eight (52-44) and a floater from Miller moved Mason ahead 12 (58-46) with 8:55 to play.
The Patriots led by nine (63-54) with 6:32 to go, but Mason would score just two field goals for the remainder of regulation, as the Hawks made a trio of 3-pointers to force overtime. Mason led by two (69-67) with 11 seconds left, but Saint Joseph’s scored on a baseline out of bounds play to tie it up. Miller’s last second attempt on the other end just rimmed out.
In overtime, a big Tyler Kolek 3-pointer put Mason up 74-71 and the Patriots went up four (76-72) on a Wilson lay-in with 2:36 to go. But once again the Patriots could not score down the stretch and missed free throws, allowing SJU tied it up.
Mason had a chance with 25 seconds left, but turned it over. The Hawks then took it the other way and had an attempt to win it on the break, but Wilson saved the Patriots with a block. SJU got the offensive board but Myles Douglas’ 3-pointer was no good.
With Mason trailing 81-79 in the second overtime, Josh Oduro went to work. He tipped in a Patriot miss to tie the score at 81, then converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to put Mason up three (84-81). An Xavier Johnson driving lay-in moved Mason ahead by five (86-81), but SJU got it back to within three with under a minute to play. But with the Hawks down two (87-85) with seven seconds to go, Mason was able to secure a final stop to earn the victory.
Mason now completes this week’s home-and-home series with a contest at Saint Joseph’s on Saturday.
The 12:30 p.m. contest will be broadcast nationally on NBC Sports Network.