For once it appeared that George Mason was finally going to play 40 minutes of good basketball but they came up about 30 seconds short. The Patriots held a three point lead with 26 seconds remaining it the game before the collapse. Chaz Williams, who killed Mason all night, hit a free-throw, then Sherrod Wright stepped on the out of bounds line for an extremely costly turnover. Williams scored again, and then stole the ball on the inbound from Wright, missed the lay-up, but Derrick Gordon got the rebound and made the easy lay-up for the win. You might be wondering why George Mason didn’t call a timeout during this mess, oh that’s because they didn’t have any left. Not like it would have done much good as the plays they ran out of timeouts prior to this were awful.
The veterans really let Mason down at the end of this game in more ways than just turnovers. All three seniors seemed to have a mental breakdown during the closing minutes of this game despite playing very well up until that point. It was finally a game where Wright and Allen were on the same page and took control of the offense. Wright, Allen, and Jenkins combined for 63 of Mason’s 87 points. They find of a good combination of Wright/Allen and Jalen Jenkins inside to maintain a lead for most of the game.
Offensive production was not the problem but slowing down Chaz Williams was. Towards the end of the game, with the lead and UMass needing to send Mason to the line to make a comeback, they let Williams score way too easily. Mason lack of a solid on-the-ball defender really killed them here. Williams is one of the quickest guards in the country but you cannot allow him to get to the rim that easily.
Sadly, this was one of Mason’s better games of the season that we’ve seen them play. They seemed to have more fire and weren’t just relying on one guy to score. Wright and Allen both tried to do a lot but their miscues at the end were very costly. You just can’t have that happen from your veterans and expect to win.
[Photos by Bill Bride]