Last Saturday, George Mason suffered one of their most painful losses this season in a 79-78 defeat in front of their home crowd at the hands of the Duquesne Dukes. The Patriots looked to be in control of the game throughout the majority of the first half. Scoring 17 pts off of Duke’s many turnovers, every time it looked like Duquesne would make things interesting, Mason would follow that up with multiple scores of their own.
Despite only leading 42-34 at Halftime, the Patriots seemed to be in a comfortable position to win the game and move up in the A10 Conference. Mason came into the game with a 9-4 conference record and fell to 9-5 after the game. They’re still in fourth place so nothing has really changed in that regard except for Mason’s sense of pride and cockiness.
The second half was when Mason had to get of cruise control quick to keep Duquesne at bay, but they were overwhelmed. Mason was outscored 45-36 in the second half and the lead changed abut 5 times throughout the second half. The game was tied twice in the waning 4 minutes of regulation, things only intensified as the game progressed from there.
The Patriots may have struggled in the second half, but things didn’t start to really fall apart until the final 57 seconds of the game. Red shirt Junior Jared Reuter committed a foul that lead to the game winning point being scored on Michael Hughes’ first free throw. From that point on, Mason and Duquesne would trade missed shots and rebounds up to the last 10 seconds of regulation. Mason was about to score to win, but Duquesne swatted the ball out of bounds. This would happen a second time as both teams used their final timeout, Mason only had ONE second left. Justin Kier (Junior) threw the ball inbounds only for time to expire before any shot could be taken.
After the game, Head Coach Dave Paulsen, Senior Otis Livingston II, and Justin Kier looked stunned at the result, as if they couldn’t believe or process what just happened. Despite this gut-wrenching defeat, Paulsen remained positive, “We played well for the majority of the game, but what happened is that we got too focused on getting the knockout punch too early.” Both Livingston and Kier noted that, “This was a tough loss, but we need to fix the problems and get better for the next game.” Mason will square off against Richmond at home on Wednesday, hoping to avenge this agonizing loss in front of the home crowd.