After Mason led for the previous 30+ minutes, the Hawks’ Chris Clover converted a lay-in with five seconds remaining to give Saint Joseph’s a 79-78 lead. But Livingston II had been sizzling from the floor all night, so it was fitting that his 25-foot 3-pointer found nothing but the bottom of the net as time expired.
“That was a heck of a performance by our guys and by Saint Joseph’s,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “I give a lot of credit to our guys and the way they responded after not playing well at all against Davidson. Here’s the thing, The way these guys responded on Monday and Tuesday in practice, working on their individual game, was really gratifying. Obviously, Otis [Livingston II] was phenomenal, but this was a complete game that Justin [Kier] played. That’s the maturation we need from him. And Ian Boyd was huge for us off the bench. But I thought we got great contributions up and down the lineup. I’m thrilled. These guys are going to make it hard for me to make my next birthday, but we will enjoy this one.”
The game-winner improved the Patriots to 2-2 in Atlantic 10 play and 8-9 overall, while the Hawks fell to 2-2 in the league and 7-8 for the season.
Livingston II finished the contest with a game-high 25 points on an efficient shots. He converted 9-of-12 field goal attempts and hit 5-of-6 3-pointers on the night. Livingston II has made nine of his last 11 3-pointers and is averaging 23 points, 4.0 assists and shooting 54.1 percent from the floor in Atlantic 10 play.
Sophomore Justin Kier also played a critical role for the Green & Gold, tallying his first career double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in 34 minutes on the floor.
Fellow sophomore Ian Boyd posted 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes. It marked his first 10+ point effort since the November 29 contest at James Madison.
Mason won the game in large part to an excellent offensive night by the Patriots. The Green & Gold shot 50.8 percent (33-65) for the game and knocked down 11 3-point field goals on 24 attempts (.458). The Patriots are shooting 45.7 percent from deep (21-46) over the past two contests.
On the strength of Boyd’s effort, the Patriots held a substantial 20-3 edge in bench scoring and were +12 (43-31) on the glass for the game. Mason also held a 36-34 edge in points in the paint and the Patriots are now 4-1 when they tally at least 35 paint points.
The Patriots hit 12 of their first 17 shots from the floor, including four of the first seven from 3-point range, to build a 30-19 lead at the 9:34 mark of the first half. Saint Joe’s made three shots in a row, including two triples, to pull back within three (38-35) at the 3:35 mark of the stanza. Mason pushed the lead back up to six (43-37) at the 2:40 mark and took a 47-42 edge into the half.
Mason extended its lead to eight at 51-43 and again at 61-53 at the 11:51 mark of the second stanza. The advantage pushed to 12 (67-55) on a lay-in from Javon Greene at the 8:55 mark, but Saint Joe’s used a 7-0 spurt to get back within five (67-62) at the 7:03 mark.
The Patriots went back up seven on a Livingston II 3-pointer (72-65) with 4:58 to go, but Saint Joseph’s again answered back, this time with a 3-pointer from Taylor Funk that made it 72-71.
Buckets from Ian Boyd kept Mason ahead three at 76-73 and 78-75, but Saint Joe’s had it within one at 78-77 with 45 seconds left. Mason earned a stop on the next Hawks possession, but a Patriot turnover gave Saint Joe’s the ball with under 10 seconds to play. The Hawks made the lay-in, before Livingston II sent the Patriots home with the win.
Mason wraps up its three-game A-10 homestand with a contest vs. Saint Louis on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network.