After falling behind by as many as 5 points in the final minutes, two straight Patriots turnovers put the ball in the hands of senior Chaz Williams with seconds to play, and UMass down by 1.
Williams missed the layup, but Derrick Gordon was there for the put back, to give UMass an 88-87 lead with :08 seconds to play, their first since the 2:30 mark. Maxie Esho stole George Mason’s final inbound pass, and the Minutemen completed an incredible last-second, comeback victory.
The teams traded leads all game and it came to a head in a dramatic 4th quarter. The turning point for the Patriots came in the final two minutes, when George Mason’s Bryon Allen drove the lane and scored, while getting fouled by Cady Lalanne. It was Lalanne’s fifth on the game, which sent him to the bench.
Allen hit the free throw to put George Mason up 84-81. With less than a minute remaining, UMass guard Trey Davis tried to answer with another big three, as he did against St. Bonaventure last Saturday. But it was off the mark, and George Mason got the rebound.
The Minutemen began to intentionally foul, which forced Raphiael Putney to foul out of the game as well. Each player on UMass’ starting front court had 4 fouls with 8 minutes to play in the game.
In a long final minute, Williams was able to cut the lead to one on a drive to the basket, following a George Mason turnover on an inbounds pass. That set up the deciding turnover that gave UMass the game-winning bucket.
George Mason’s guards were stellar throughout the game. Sherrod Wright scored 26 points, and was 8 of 10 from the free throw line. Allen added 20 of his own, while adding four assists.
The usual suspects were the stars for the Minutemen. Senior Chaz Williams had 26 points and 8 assists, on 11 of 17 shooting from the field. Despite foul troubles, Lalanne and Putney added 19 and 12, respectively, while grabbing 13 rebounds between them.
UMass out-shot George Mason, shooting nearly 10 percentage points better from the field, but committed more turnovers in the game, despite a messy final minute for the Patriots.
The win brings UMass to a 15-1 record, and a still-perfect 3-0 record in A-10 Conference play. They’ll be in action again on Saturday, on the road against Elon Phoenix at 7:00 p.m.