George Mason hung around all game, staying within striking distance of the Villanova Wildcats in second round action of the NCAA Tournament. It came down to free throws as Mason crept back into the game in the second half as Villanova struggled at the line, hitting 15-24 for the game.
With 1:30 to go, Ryan Pearson drove the lane, hit the layup and drew a foul to bring George Mason within one. Pearson’s free throw was good, tying the game and setting up our first exciting finish of the day — all with Gus Johnson on the call.
Mason fouled Mouphtaou Yarou in a scramble, putting him at the line for a one-and-one. Yarou couldn’t connect on the first, giving George Mason a chance to take the lead with under a minute to go. Mason made the Wildcats pay on the other end as Mike Morrison’s put-back dunk ignited the crowd, and Gus Johnson, while giving the Patriots a two-point lead.
George Mason had Villanova on its heels with outstanding defense on the next possession, but bailed the Wildcats out by fouling Corey Fisher on a contested three in the corner. Fisher came through in the clutch, hitting all three free throws to give the Wildcats a one-point lead.
Like Hancock answered for the Patriots, drilling a step-back three to put the Patriots up two with 19 seconds to go. Villanova had two chances at the tie, but couldn’t connect on either, missing a contested runner and a tough jumper from the baseline, leading to a Morrison dunk on the other end as an exclamation point.
When it was all said and done, Mason had a 61-57 win over Villanova in the day’s first exciting finish.
George Mason moves on to face Ohio State or Texas-San Antonio in the round of 32. The updated East region bracket can be found below and a full NCAA Tournament bracket can be found at SB Nation.
No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 16 Texas-SA
No. 8 George Mason def. No. 9 Villanova, 61-57
No. 5 WVU def. No. 12 Clemson, 84-76
No. 4 Kentucky def. No. 13 Princeton, 59-57
No. 2 UNC vs. No. 15 Long Island
No. 7 Washington vs. No. 10 Georgia.
No. 3 Syracuse vs.No. 14 Indiana State
No. 8 Xavier vs. No. 11 Marquette