March 25, 2013
FAIRFAX, Va. - Trailing by as many as 19 points midway through the first half, the University of Houston men's basketball staged an impressive comeback but fell just short in an 88-84 loss in overtime to George Mason inside the Patriot Center on Monday during the College Basketball Invitational Quarterfinals.
George Mason connected on 11 of their first 15 shots from the field and jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game. Houston eventually put nine points on the scoreboard, but by that time, the Patriots held a 28-9 advantage and looked ready to coast into the CBI Semifinals.
However, the Cougars would not go quietly into the night and slowly, but surely, began to chip away at the deficit. GMU's Erik Copes hit a free throw with 3:13 remaining to give the Patriots a 38-28 lead. The Cougars scored the game's next eight points and moved to within 38-36 when sophomore forward TaShawn Thomas hit a pair of free throws.
Unfortunately, George Mason regained the momentum by scoring the final five points of the first half and held a 43-36 lead at the break.
In the second half, the Cougars continued to cut into the GMU lead, only to see the Patriots answer with a rally of their own each time. Late in regulation, Houston made its move after finding its touch from the 3-point line, Trailing 69-60 with 6:29 remaining, Houston took off on a 15-5 run , thanks to three consecutive treys from Young, and grabbed their first lead of the night when the Yates High product buried a pair of free throws with 1:29 to go.
GMU regained the lead on a Jonathan Arledge dunk with just less than a minute remaining and looked ready to ice the game after the Cougars were forced to foul on a missed shot on the ensuing possession. But with 26 seconds remaining, Sherrod Wright hit only 1-of-2 free throws for a 77-75 GMU lead.
The Cougars worked the ball around before junior point guard Tione Womack found Thomas for a game-tying dunk with 10- seconds left. The Patriots missed on the ensuing possession, but the ball bounced off a Cougar with 1.3 seconds left to give GMU one last chance. Fortunately, Bryon Allen's 3-pointer bounced off the rim, sending Houston to its fifth overtime game of the season.
In the extra period, Wright gave the Patriots a quick lead with a 3-pointer on the opening possession, and the Cougars played catch-up from there. Trailing 84-79, the Cougars moved back to within a point on back-to-back baskets from Thomas and had a chance to tie after a missed GMU shot.
However, the shots were off the mark, and Houston was again forced to foul. With just 10 seconds left, Corey Edwards gave GMU an 86-83 lead, and the Patriots fouled forward and Conference USA Freshman of the Year Danuel House before the Sugar Land, Texas, native had a chance for a game-tying trey.
House connected on his first free throw try but missed the second. Redshirt freshman forward Jherrod Stiggers nearly snared the loose ball to put up a game-tying attempt, but Wright gained control for GMU and hit both free throw attempts with just one second for the final margin of victory.
George Mason used hot shooting from the field, especially early and especially from the 3-point line, to win the first meeting between the two teams. The Patriots drained 11 treys in 22 attempts, including 8-of-15 in the first half alone.
Thomas scored 24 points with a game-high 17 rebounds to lead the Cougars and record his 16th double-double of the season and the 25th of his career. Young finished with 21 points, two rebounds and three assists, while House posted 13 points with three assists in the loss.
Wright led all players with 29 points, thanks to an 11-of-14 effort from the free throw line and four 3-pointers. Arledge and Patrick Holloway finished with 11 points apiece, while Allen totaled 10 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
With the loss, the Cougars ended their season with a 20-13 overall record. The 2012-13 team became only the 21st in school history to enjoy a 20-win season and posted the highest win total since the 2008-09 squad finished 21-12.
George Mason improved to 20-14 and advanced to the CBI Semifinals.