FAIRFAX, Va. - The George Mason men's basketball team erased a seven-point
deficit in the final minute of regulation, but could not hold off Towson in
overtime as the Patriots fell, 85-81, in their home finale on Tuesday night at
the Patriot Center. Mason dropped to 10-7 in Colonial Athletic Association play
with the loss and 17-12 overall, while the Tigers improved to 12-5 in conference
and 17-13 overall.
Four Patriots scored in double-figures, led by a career
night of 13 points and 15 rebounds by sophomore Erik Copes, his third
double-double of the year. Junior Jonathan Arledge had a team high 17 points,
while classmate Bryon Allen added 14 points and sophomore Corey Edwards
contributed 10 along with a career-high five steals.
Jerrelle Benimon led the way for Towson with 31 points,
while Marcus Damas added 23 and Bilal Dixon had a team-high 10 rebounds, leading
a Tiger effort off the glass that out-rebounded Mason, 44-39. The Tigers also
held the shooting advantage, going 29-for-59 (49.2 percent) compared to a 39.7
percent mark for Mason (29-73).
Redshirt sophomore Anali Okoloji drilled a 3-pointer with
1.9 seconds left to tie the score at 79-all, completing a furious comeback in
the final sixty seconds. After a pair of Jerome Hairston free throws at the
1:16 mark made it 76-69, Mason got a pair of 3-pointers from freshman Patrick
Holloway to just one Dixon free
throw to make the score 77-75. With 24 seconds to go, Okoloji got his own
rebound and was fouled, but could hit just one of two from the free throw line.
The second attempt was rebounded by Towson, and Damas sank both his free
throw attempts with 19 seconds to go, setting up the Patriots final offensive
possession and Okoloji's trey.
In the overtime period, both teams were scoreless for the
first two minutes until an Edwards layup put Mason on top 81-79. It would
be the Patriots' only points for the remainder of the game, as Benimon's
jumper tied the score, Dixon hit a basket in the paint and Damas sank two more
free throws to ice the victory.
Behind a hot-shooting Benimon in the first half, Towson stormed
out to an 11-4 run and went on to lead by as many as 10, after a Damas
3-pointer at the 10:16 mark left the score 30-20. Mason found counter-punches
for each of the Tigers runs, tying the score at 32 on an Arledge jumper after a
Patriots 12-2 run. Another stretch by Towson, 10 in a row and taking less than
two minutes, put the Tigers up again by 10 and they would go on to lead 44-36
at the break. Benimon had 22 points in the first half while Arledge led the way for Mason with 11
Prior to the game, Mason's lone senior, guard Bryce Lewis,
along with team managers Aaron Auger and Tyler Jorns were recognized as part of
Mason will close out the regular season on Saturday
afternoon, traveling to the University of Delaware for a 2 p.m. tilt at the Bob