Cavaliers Drop Season-Opener To George Mason, 63-59
Nov. 9, 2012
FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) – Bryon Allen hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining, then sank two free throws to seal George Mason’s 63-59 victory over Virginia on Friday.
Allen’s 3-pointer just beat the shot block buzzer and gave the Patriots a 60-57 advantage with 1:02 remaining. The junior’s foul shots with 2.1 seconds left ended the Cavaliers’ 14-game winning streak in season openers and gave George Mason its first win in the series in eight tries.
“I didn’t have a good look at all, I just tried to put it up there,” Allen said of his go-ahead basket. “Honestly, I’m just trying to get it up. It felt good, and once it got halfway there, I knew it was going in.”
The Patriots escaped with the victory despite missing 10 of 17 foul shots in the second half. Virginia knocked down seven 3-pointers, but George Mason used full-court defensive pressure and forced the Cavaliers’ depleted backcourt into several key turnovers down the stretch.
It was the George Mason’s first win over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent since defeating North Carolina during their run to the Final Four in 2006.
“You look at the turnovers, and 12 to not an alarming number. (But) we had a number of turnovers in a row, and I thought that some of those were costly,” said Virginia coach Tony Bennett, who started three freshmen. “To come into this setting, the first experience for these guys, it was a great atmosphere. You try to grow from it.”
Both teams were missing multiple players.
Virginia played without four guards: Teven Jones – who sat out while serving a suspension for violating team rules, Jontel Evans, Malcolm Brogdon and walk-on Justin Miller, who missed the game with injuries.
George Mason was without forward Eric Copes and guard Vaughn Gray, who were serving the first game of a 3-game suspension for student-athlete conduct violations.
The Patriots managed to overcome a scoreless drought of 6 minutes, 56 seconds midway through the first half to take a 28-25 lead at halftime. Poor shooting by the Cavaliers – 33 percent in the first half and 40 percent for the game – enabled the Patriots to hang around and eventually take the lead at the half on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Marko Gujanicic.
“We thought it was going to be this kind of game, and I’m very proud of how our guys hung in there,” George Mason coach Paul Hewitt said. “It’s a great win for us.”
Sherrod Wright paced the Patriots with 15 points, while Allen added 13 and Johnny Williams had 11.
Joe Harris scored 19 points to lead Virginia.