FAIRFAX, Va. - Going to overtime for the first time this
season, the George Mason men's basketball team could not hold off Northern Iowa
as the Panthers dealt the Patriots a 82-77 loss on Saturday night at the
For Mason (6-4), the loss snaps a 14-game home winning
streak that dated back to last December and was the ninth-longest active streak
in the country. UNI improved to 6-3 with the victory.
Junior Sherrod Wright scored 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting
to pace the Mason offense, and was joined in double-figures by classmate Bryon
Allen who added 13 points. Leading a rebounding effort which held a 34-27
advantage over the Panthers was redshirt sophomore Anali Okoloji who had seven
boards. Three UNI scorers reached double digits, led by 21 points from Marc
Mason got off to an inauspicious start, with the Panthers
scoring the first 10 points and keeping the Patriots off the scoreboard for
three and a half minutes. Edwards ended the drought with a 16-foot jumper at
the 16:28 mark, and eight of the next nine points went to Mason as they cut it
to a one-possession contest at 11-8.
It took until the 6:19 mark and a Wright layup to completely
erase the UNI lead, as he tied the score at 21-all. The margin stayed within
four points for the duration of the half, including Mason taking its only lead
at 26-25 on a pair of Copes free throws at the 4:02 mark. Copes cut the deficit
to one with another free throw at the 24-second mark to make it 32-31, but
Sonnen drained a three from the right side in the final seconds to set the
halftime score of 35-31.
Mason out-shot and out-rebounded the Panthers in the first
half, but UNI sank four 3-points compared to two for Mason and committed three
fewer turnovers. Allen led the way for the Patriots with nine points while
Sonnen had 12 to pace the Panthers.
Until late in the second half, it remained a one-possession
game, when a 7-0 run by UNI made the score 65-59 with 4:19 to go in regulation.
At the 1:42 mark, Allen hit a pair of free throws which tied the score at 67,
and after a pair by Anthony James and a Wright layup, it was tied headed into
the final minute of the period.
Jake Koch attempted a 3-pointer with the shot clock expiring
that missed the rim, and Mason had the ball with the clock ticking down. An
Allen field goal attempt did not hit the rim, and on the ensuing possession,
UNI drove the length of the court but James's layup spun off the rim, sending
the game into overtime.
The Panthers never trailed in the overtime period, after a
Sonnen 3-pointer 72 seconds in. Again inside of 10 seconds remaining, the
Patriots had a chance to tie with a 3-pointer,
but they turned it over and Seth Tuttle iced the win with two free
throws with two seconds left.
Mason breaks two weeks for final exams, returning to action
in the Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic on Saturday, December 22 against
Richmond. Tip-off against the Spiders from Richmond Coliseum is set for 3 p.m.