The George Mason men's basketball team entered its nonconference game against visiting Detroit last night at a disadvantage. The Patriots' best player, junior forward George Evans, was injured and would be missing his first college game, putting his team's three-game win streak and 17-game Patriot Center win streak in serious jeopardy.
The Patriots could not keep the streaks intact. They led 46-37 with 11 minutes 25 seconds remaining, before Detroit went on a 15-2 run to take the lead and escape with a 63-61 victory. George Mason had a chance to win the game, but redshirt freshman Jon Larranaga's desperation three-pointer from the baseline at the buzzer hit the side of the backboard.
Evans, a junior forward and the reigning Colonial Athletic Association player of the year, is suffering from tendinitis in his left forearm. He is listed as day-to-day, and is questionable for Saturday night's game at Virginia Commonwealth, a team spokesman said. He is averaging 20.0 points and 9.0 rebounds a game, both team highs.
"Everybody had to come together, the whole team, in order to make up George's scoring and rebounding," said Patriots senior guard Ahmad Dorsett, who finished with 13 points.
The matchup against Detroit was an important one for George Mason. If the Patriots (9-8) are able to repeat as CAA tournament champions, a win over Detroit--a member of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference--would help their NCAA tournament seeding. The Titans (12-6) have advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament two years in a row, gaining first-round upsets of St. John's in 1998 and UCLA last season.
Without Evans, the Patriots were led by junior forward Erik Herring (18 points, 6 assists), and sophomore forward Terrance Nixon added 11 points and six rebounds. But in the end, the Patriots lost because they couldn't stop Detroit senior guard Rashad Phillips.
Phillips entered the game as the nation's fourth-leading scorer with 23.9 points a game. Last night he scored a game-high 27 points on 11-of-20 shooting.
Detroit went on a 15-2 run midway through the first half, and took a 29-24 lead into halftime.
But in the second half, George Mason closed within two points and got the ball with 21 seconds left. Herring drove to the lane, and he was met by a crowd of Detroit defenders. He passed out to Larranaga, who was unable to get off a good shot.
"Actually, I think our team did very well," Dorsett said. "We played well offense-wise and defense-wise without George, even though we really needed him tonight."
ST. JOSEPH'S 102, GEORGE WASHINGTON 91: Marvin O'Connor scored 24 points and sparked a late spurt as the Hawks defeated the Colonials in an Atlantic 10 Conference game in Philadelphia.
Na-im Crenshaw added 20 points for the Hawks (7-7, 2-3), who hit the 100-point mark for the first time since December 1992.
SirValiant Brown, who came into the game leading the nation in scoring with a 26.9 average, was hampered by foul trouble and scored 18 points. Bernard Barrow added 15 points for the Colonials (6-10, 0-3).
OLD DOMINION 62, AMERICAN 57: Andre McCullum scored nine of his 13 points in the second half, including a key jumper to protect a lead and then four free throws in the last 11 seconds, as the Monarchs held off the Eagles in Norfolk.
Old Dominion (7-11, 2-5 Colonial Athletic Association) led by 46-35 with 12:54 to play, before American (7-9, 2-3) closed the gap to two on three occasions. Each time, the Monarchs answered with a basket, the last by McCullum with 2:12 to play to make it 57-53.
VIRGINIA TECH 82, FORDHAM 61: Freshman point guard Brian Chase scored 20 points and Dennis Mims added 10 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Hokies (9-7, 3-2 Atlantic 10) over the Rams (8-9, 1-4) in Blacksburg, Va.
CATHOLIC 86, SALISBURY STATE 82: Senior guard Dan Harrington (St. John's) scored a career-high 29 points, and the Cardinals (12-2, 4-1 Capital Athletic Conference) shot 73 percent in the second half to defeat the host Sea Gulls (8-6, 3-2).