RICHMOND, Va. - Junior Bryon Allen keyed a sharp-shooting George Mason offense with a career-high 20 points, but the Patriots were unable to stave off top seed Northeastern as the Huskies defeated No. 4-seed Mason, 69-67, in the semifinal round of the 2013 Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Championship.
Mason concludes its season at 18-14, while the Huskies improved to 20-11 and await the winner of #2 Delaware/#3 James Madison in the championship game Monday night.
Allen was one of five double-figure scorers for the Patriots, as freshman Marko Gujanicic contributed 12 points and juniors Jonathan Arledge, Sherrod Wright and Vertrail Vaughns each chipped in 10. Mason shot better than 63 percent from the field for the game, including a 15-19 mark in the second half (78.9 percent). NU was led by 14 points from Jonathan Lee and Joel Smith, the former sinking the game-winning layup with three seconds to play.
Mason’s defense was stifling to open the contest, holding the Huskies off the scoreboard for more than nine and a half minutes. In that time, the Patriots put the first 13 points on the scoreboard, before Jonathan Lee’s basket at the 10:26 mark got the Huskies their first field goal of the afternoon. Marshavelski added another bucket at the 9:01 mark, but it would be NU’s last for nearly five more minutes.
During that span, the Patriots stretched their advantage to 28-4, concluding at the 4:40 mark with an Edwards layup. It was the Patriots’ largest of the first half, matched moments later as Wright responded to a Pollard trey with a shot clock buzzer-beating runner. It was his sixth points of the game, and it pushed him over the 1,000-point mark. Immediately upon the inbound, a technical foul was whistled on the Huskies’ bench, and Vaughns sank one of two at the free throw line to make it 31-7 with 3:36 to play.
NU’s offense came alive to close the half, making six of their final seven field goal attempts as the Huskies embarked on a 12-0 run to close the period, cutting the halftime deficit to 31-19. Vaughns led all players with 10 points as the Patriots shot 50 percent from the field (11-22), while Pollard’s eight points paced a 33.3-percent shooting Huskies team. Mason also out-rebounded NU by a 18-12 mark.
The Huskies’ run extended into the second half, draining three 3-pointers in the first 90 seconds to pull within 31-28. Mason scored to end a stretch of 21 unanswered on an Arledge layup at the 17:34 mark, but Northeastern tied the score on Smith’s layup at the 16:56 mark, making it 33-all. In a frantic, back-and-forth game from then on, the teams swapped the lead seven times and tied six times.
Mason led by six points with three minutes to play, after an Arledge layup made it 67-61, but the Patriots could not dent the scoreboard again as free throws by Lee and Quincy Ford along with a Ford layup tied the score at 67 with under a minute to play. The Patriots had an entry pass into the paint to set up a go-ahead bucket, but with 30 seconds to play, NU emerged with the ball and Lee laid it in. A desperation heave by Gujancic from the half-court line was off the mark as the Huskies advanced.