Men’s Basketball Loses to Georgia State, 66-64

Posted: January 3, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

The Mason men’s basketball team was unable to hold onto a 13-point halftime lead as the Patriots were upset at Georgia State on Wednesday, 66-64.

The Patriots committed nine second-half turnovers and were just three of nine from the free throw line in the second half, suffering their first-ever loss to Georgia State.

After Georgia State took its first lead of the game in the final minute, Mason’s Dre Smith made one of two from the free throw line with 14.0 seconds to go to tie the score at 64-64. But Leonard Mendez, who scored 19 points in the game for Georgia, drained a jumper from the top of the key as time expired to give the Panthers the win.

Four Mason players scored in double figures. John Vaughan had 18, Will Thomas had 17, Smith had 13 and Folarin Campbell had 12. But Vaughan and Smith combined for just four in the second half.

The Patriots entered Wednesday’s game shooting 48 percent from three-point range over its past three contests. Mason started the contest just as sharp, making a pair of three-pointers to open the game as Smith and Vaughan each connected from deep.

After Louis Birdsong scored inside, Smith hit another three-pointer and Thomas scored six straight points to put Mason ahead 17-8. After a Justin Billingslea dunk, Campbell hit from the elbow and Vaughan followed with a traditional three-point-play for a 22-10 edge with just under 10 minutes to go in the first half.

Mason closed out the half strong after Georgia State pulled to within seven. Vaughan was the catalyst with a three-pointer, two baskets in traffic and a pair of free throws.

Smith’s three-pointer with 1:19 to go allowed Mason to take a 43-30 lead into the half. Mason shot 53.6 percent from the field in the half, 50 percent from three-point range and made 7 of 8 from the free throw line.

Georgia State also shot well, hitting on 47.6 percent of its shots. The Panthers were able to stay close because of 10 of 14 shooting from the free throw line and a 13-11 edge in rebounding.

The second half was a completely different story. The Panthers opened the break with a 15-2 run to tie the game with just under 13 minutes to go.

The Patriots didn’t let the game stayed tied for long. Thomas scored on a dunk inside off a no-look from Cam Long. Mendez responded with a baseline jumper, but Campbell sank a long three-pointer to put Mason ahead 50-47.

Billingslea pulled the Panthers to within one, but Thomas scored inside to push it back to three. Mendez sank a 19-footer to make it 52-51. At the other end, Thomas made one of two from the line to put the Patriots ahead by two with under nine minutes to play.

Mendez tied the score on a drive to the basket, but Vaughan countered with a three-pointer to make it 56-53. After a Campbell drive, Trae Goldston scored on a desperation shot as the shot clock wound down to make it 58-55.

After a Mason turnover, D.J. Jones scored to pull the Panthers to within one. But Campbell again hit a big three-pointer to make it a four-point game. After being held scoreless for 3:27, Mendez hit a three-pointer with 1:43 to play to pull the Panthers to within one. After a shot-clock violation gave Georgia State the ball, the Panthers took their first lead of the game on a Billingslea reverse layup with 35 seconds to go.

Mason will return home to take on Towson on Saturday with a 4:30 p.m. tip time.

Write to at