Late Run by Kent State Spoils Mason’s Homecoming

Posted: February 19, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

The George Mason basketball team was unable to hold onto a one-point lead with under four minutes to play as Kent State outscored Mason 9-2 down the stretch to beat the Patriots 68-62 in an ESPN BracketBusters contest. There were 9,073 fans in attendance for Mason’s Homecoming game but the Patriots were unable to improve to 3-0 in the BracketBusters. The Patriots had beaten Manhattan in 2005 and Wichita State in 2006.

Kent State (17-9) got 17 points from Omni Smith, 13 from Armon Gates and 12 from Julian Sullinger. Mason got 12 points and 10 rebounds from Will Thomas and 10 points from Darryl Monroe. Mason (14-13) played the final moments without Folarin Campbell, who left the game with a hamstring injury.

Mason has one home game remaining, Tuesday’s contest against Georgia State.

Trailing 46-42, Darryl Monroe scored inside and converted a free throw to pull Mason to within one. Omni Smith converted a pair of free throws and Tim Burns drained a 3-pointer from the left wing to tie the score at 48-48. After Armon Gates missed a 3-pointer, Burns hit another 3-pointer from virtually the same spot to give Mason a 51-48 lead, its first since 25-24 in the first half. The lead didn’t last long, though, as Gates hit a 3-pointer out of a timeout to make it 51-51.

The next trip down the court saw Mason go inside. Monroe got the ball in the post and out of the double team found John Vaughan on a back-cut for an easy layup. Kent State retook the lead, though, as Rodriguez Sherman hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to put the Golden Flashes ahead 54-53. Mason went right back on top when Folarin Campbell drove baseline and put in an acrobatic layup but Julian Sullinger scored off an offensive rebound for a 56-55 Kent State lead with under eight minutes to play. Monroe went to work the next time down, hitting a fadeaway jumper for a one-point Mason lead. The Patriots defense forced a turnover on Kent State’s next possession, but Mason was unable to capitalize as Burns missed an open 3-pointer from the

corner. That allowed the Golden Flashes to retake the lead as Gates hit a 3-pointer off an offensive rebound. After Monroe missed the front-end of a one-and-one and Kent State came up empty on a long jumper, Campbell hit a 3-pointer for a 60-59 Mason lead.

The Golden Flashes retook the lead on Haminn Quaintance’s layup and Mason stayed behind after Monroe turned the ball over. Gates followed with a three-pointer to put Kent State ahead 64-60. After Gates, who was 25 of 26 from the line heading into the game made just one of two free throws, the Patriots

were unable to convert and Kent State got the rebound and iced the game with a pair of Jordan Mincy free throws.

The game was a back-and-forth affair for the first 13 minutes as neither team was able to establish dominance. Kent State got a lot of points early in

the paint while Mason hit a number of short jumpers. Mason led 25-24 with fewer than seven minutes to go in the half.

The Golden Flashes used a 6-0 run to take control of the game and take a lead into the half. Julian Sullinger scored twice in the paint and Omni Smith hit a short jumper to make it 30-25. Kent State built the lead to 34-27 before

Mason trimmed it, going into the half 38-33.

Kent State had a significant shooting edge in the first half, making 58.3 percent of its shots, while Mason converted on just 41.9 percent. But the

Golden Flashes turned the ball over seven times to Mason’s three while the Patriots were 4 of 12 from behind the arc while Kent State was 2 of 8. Smith

had 12 at the break and Sullinger had 10 while Mason was led by Will Thomas’ 10 and Dre Smith’s nine.

Mason is next in action on Tuesday when the Patriots host Georgia State on Senior Night. The game had originally been scheduled for Wednesday but was moved to Tuesday so it could be televised. The contest on Tuesday will begin at 7 p.m. and seniors Tim Burns, Makan Konate, Charles Makings and Gabe Norwood will be honored.

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