George Mason could thank two of its least-used players for preventing the Patriots from being blown out last night against Old Dominion. Ultimately, however, the Patriots could thank their best player for pulling out a victory.
After a furious comeback helped lead to a tie in regulation, junior forward George Evans scored on a putback with 2.9 seconds remaining in overtime to lift George Mason to a 77-75 victory before 3,989 at Patriot Center.
Evans scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Patriots (8-7, 3-2 Colonial Athletic Association). But Patriots Coach Jim Larranaga credited the win to junior Tremaine Price and freshman Tyrone Tiggs, a pair of point guards who didn't score a point but who did rescue the team at a critical juncture.
The Patriots trailed, 62-49, with 6 minutes 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter, when Larranaga called a timeout and inserted Price and Tiggs into the lineup. The coach said he wanted the pair, both reserves, to give the team some defensive intensity, which Larranaga said his starters were lacking. Old Dominion (6-11, 1-5) had gone on a 13-0 run before the timeout, with the final four points coming on back-to-back breakaway layups by sophomore guard Pierre Greene.
But with Tiggs and Price guarding Greene and junior guard Michael Williams, the Patriots scored 14 straight points to pull ahead, 63-62. Neither Tiggs or Price was credited with a steal during the run, but Larranaga said their presence settled down their teammates.
"Those two guys didn't score a point, and both went 0 for 2 from the field, but they won the game for us," Larranaga said.
Old Dominion finally ended the run on a jumper by Williams with 57 seconds left, but George Mason senior forward Keith Holdan answered with a three-point basket with 34 seconds left to give the Patriots a 66-64 lead.
The Monarchs tied the game with 13 seconds left on two free throws by junior forward Andrew McCullum, who was fouled by Patriots junior forward Erik Herring going for a loose ball. Price missed a short jumper with three seconds left that would have won the game for George Mason.
George Mason scored on its first four possessions in overtime and took a 74-70 lead with 2:02 left. But Williams made a three-pointer at 1:43 to whittle the lead to one. The teams exchanged missed baskets before Herring was fouled with 27 seconds left; he made 1 of 2 free throws to extend the lead to 75-73.
But Old Dominion tied the score with 13.8 seconds left when Clifton Jones made two free throws after being fouled by George Mason sophomore Rob Anderson.