Despite late rally, Patriots drop last home game to Towson, 85-81 in OT

Junior guard Bryon Allen drives against Towson's Rafriel Guthrie in game Tuesday night (Photo by John Irwin).
Junior guard Bryon Allen drives against Towson's Rafriel Guthrie in game Tuesday night (Photo by John Irwin).

In the final home game of the season, senior walk-on Bryce Lewis was celebrated. The George Mason University men's basketball team showed resiliency but couldn't hold off the Towson Tigers in a 85-81 overtime loss Tuesday night.

The 31-point offensive performance of Towson forward and Georgetown transfer Jerrelle Benimon proved a deciding factor in the Tigers' first win against Mason since joining the Colonial Athletic Association in 2001. Benimon had his way with the Mason defense, hitting three's when given the room and driving to the rim when the defense tightened up. 

"What was frustrating was we had a [defensive] plan that worked very well [at Towson], at least we thought it did and we didn't do it," said Patriots coach Paul Hewitt. "Any time he put the ball on the floor, we were going to double [team] him and we kept conceding the jumpshot. I have no answers."

Rebounding was another fundamental category that Mason struggled with and has struggled with all season. Towson controlled the boards with 44 team rebounds to Mason's 39. A late offensive rebound and put back during overtime by the Tigers' Bilal Dixon gave Towson the two-point edge they needed to pull out the road victory.

Sophomore forward Erik Copes placed the blame for the lack of rebounding on his shoulders, despite leading the team with 15 rebounds to go along with his 13 points.

"I didn't get enough rebounds," Copes said. "I'm the best rebounder on my team and I should've had 20 [rebounds]. That's why we lost the game."

Mason, after falling behind by 10 points at the half, came out in the second half with more intensity on both ends of the floor. Junior forward Paris Bennett was faced with the daunting task of shutting down Benimon and held him to nine points in the second half and overtime. 

The Patriots battled back by chipping away at the Tigers' lead with stops and efficient offensive possessions. 

Trailing by seven points with 1:16 left in regulation, the Patriots turned to their lethal sharpshooter, freshman Patrick Holloway to force an extra period of play. Holloway, who scored all of his points in the final minute of the second half, knocked down two three-pointers that cut the Tiger lead to two.

"My teammates kept finding me," said Holloway. "[Towson] handed us the game and we didn't take it." 

The home loss is the sixth for the Patriots this season--the worst record at the Patriot Center since the 2006-2007 season. 

Mason travels to Delaware on Saturday for their final regular season game. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m. and will be broadcast on NBC Sportsnet. 

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