On paper, George Mason was supposed to cruise to an easy victory against the conference dwelling Duquesne on Wednesday night. It was senior night to help cap off an incredible program-building season, the Patriots needed to end their three game losing streak, and Duquesne has not been that strong this season.
Whatever headline you wanted coming in, the Dukes gave George Mason all they could handle as the Green and Gold barely held on 63-62 in EagleBank Arena.
In the final six minutes of the contest, only senior Jalen Jenkins, who led the team with 13 points, scored for the Patriots. Albeit it was only four points.
Not a single basket went down in the closing five minutes of the game for Mason. The team closed out the game on making two of their final nine shot attempts. Only Jenkins’ two free throws kept it from being a five minute scoring drought.
LAST GAME: PATRIOTS STILL CAN’T BEAT GW
On defense Mason was able to hold Duquesne to a low production as well. In the same five minute span, Mason gave up merely two layups and two free throws. Still that gave the Dukes two chances to win the game.
After a pull-up jumper went awry for Otis Livingston II (12 points, five assists), Duquesne controlled the rebound and called a timeout to set up the last possession. Down by a single point with 11 seconds left on the clock, the Dukes wanted to push the ball to their Rookie of the Year contender, Mike Lewis II.
With two fouls to give, Marquise Moore quickly went to foul Lewis but got sandwiched out and Lewis squeezed through the key. He would put up a tear drop layup that would miss to the left, but Tarin Smith pulled down one of the 11 offensive rebounds for Duquesne.
Smith would put up a rushed shot that bounced off the rim and the buzzer sounded before a third game winning attempt went off.
Lewis and Smith would finish with 10 points apiece. Pacing the squad was another freshman, Isiaha Mike with 20 points and 11 rebounds. It was his second double-double of his career.
Combined both Mike and Lewis have acquired seven Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week awards this year.
Moore finished two points short of a double-double at eight points and 13 rebounds in his final regular season home game as a Patriot. He had a relatively quite night shooting going 3-11 from the field.
All eight Patriots who entered the game scored, and the bench outscored the opponent for once 15-8. Scoring 18 points off turnovers helped combat a terrible shooting night from behind the arc where Mason was 3-18.
It was a relatively clean game for both teams though with only 19 turnovers and 21 fouls.
The third senior on the Mason roster, Myles Tate unfortunately did not get any playing time tonight with how close the game was in the closing minutes.
For George Mason (19-11, 9-8), this win guarantees that the Patriots will finish the year out at .500 in conference play or better. It also ensures the team with be somewhere between a six seed and an eight seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
Duquesne (10-20, 3-14) remains in the basement of the conference and will play Saint Joseph’s (10-19, 3-14) to close out the year. Whichever team loses will have the No. 14 seed in the conference.
Mason finishes the regular season out against VCU (23-7, 13-4) on Saturday. Earlier this season the Patriots lost to VCU in a thriller at home 73-64.