Late New Mexico threes stun George Mason, 70-69
The Patriots, who led for nearly the entire second half, dropped to 2-2 and will play the loser of the Connecticut/Quinnipiac game on Monday at 7:30 p.m. Atlantic time (6:30 p.m. ET).
Junior Sherrod Wright led the Patriots with 22 points, one of three in double digits as he was joined by 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds from Johnny Williams, and 11 points by freshman Patrick Holloway. The Lobos, meanwhile, were powered by 27 points from Tony Snell, including the game-winning 3-pointer.
The Patriots built a lead as large as seven points in the second half, one that, save for a tie at 30-30, the Patriots led throughout until the final seconds. Cameron Bairstow tipped in a missed Alex Kirk jumper at the 1:13 mark to cut the Mason lead to 63-62, but Wright answered with a 4-point play, sinking a trey and the subsequent free throw after he was fouled at the 17-second mark.
Six seconds later, Williams hit a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc, and after the Patriots couldn’t get the ball inbounded, Snell fired a three from the left corner, and it was on the mark to give the Lobos the lead for good.
Mason stormed out to a 6-0 lead behind back-to-back 3-pointers by Wright, but the Lobos answered with eight in a row of their own to take the lead five minutes into the contest. From there, the remainder of the first half would see-saw back and forth, with a total of nine lead changes and seven ties. Neither team gained a lead greater than one possession, with a pair of Vaughns free throws at the 35.6-second mark tying the score once more at 28, the eventual halftime margin.
The Patriots drained 6-of-13 attempts from behind the 3-point arc in the first half, but just three of 17 tries from 2-point range to shoot 30 percent overall. New Mexico was slightly better at 39.1 percent, but was out-rebounded by a 19-16 margin and committed three more turnovers, 11-8.
For the game, the Lobos held a 44-to-41.4 percent field goal shooting advantage, but Mason outrebounded UNM 35-30. The Patriots also won the turnover battle, 18-16.