BOCA RATON, Fla. - The George Mason men's basketball team overcame a
double-digit second half deficit to force their third overtime game of the
season, but Florida Atlantic was able to defend their home court in a 80-75
victory Saturday night at FAU Arena. Mason dropped to 2-2 after their first
true road contest of the season, while the Owls improved to 2-3.
Redshirt sophomore Vertrail Vaughns scored a career high 21
points to lead all scorers, while senior Ryan Pearson chipped in 19. Four Owls
reached double figures, led by Raymond Taylor who had 15 points. Two of Mason's
freshmen had major impacts, as Corey Edwards and Erik Copes posted team highs
of four assists and four blocks, respectively.
The Owls scored the first four points of the overtime period
and never trailed in the extra period, but they led by as many as 12 more than
halfway through the second half. Facing a 57-45 deficit and fewer than six
minutes remaining on the clock, Mason mounted a furious rally which saw them
tie the score at 62 just over two minutes later. A Pablo Bertone 3-pointer made
it 65-62 in favor of the Owls, but key layups by freshmen Edwards and Copes
equaled the score. Copes' basket, in which he took a pass in the paint from
classmate Edwards, came with two seconds left in the half and sent the game
into the extra period.
It was a contentious first half with nine lead changes,
including a 10-2 run by the Patriots to close out the opening stanza which sent
the visitors to the locker room leading 35-30. In the second half and overtime,
though, FAU shot 19-of-36 from the field (52.8 percent) compared to a 14-of-33
mark by Mason (42.4 percent) to close out the victory.
The Patriots are back in action on Monday, as they host the
consolation round of the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off. Mason plays
Brown and Albany at 7:30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, with
Monmouth the fourth team to round out the field in Fairfax. The Hawks' games will
be played at 5 p.m. as part of each night's doubleheader.