George Mason defeats Saint Joseph’s, 81-79, on last-second shot

Courtesy of SJUHawks.com

FAIRFAX, VA – Otis Livingston converted a three-pointer with one second left to give George Mason an 81-79 win over Saint Joseph’s (7-8; 2-2 A-10) in Atlantic 10 action at EagleBank Arena, snapping the Hawks two-game winning streak.

Saint Joseph’s Chris Clover converted a layup off the inbounds pass with five seconds left to give the Hawks their first lead of the second half, 79-78. But it was short-lived as the Patriots inbounded and went the length of the court to set up Livingston’s game winner.

Shavar Newkirk led SJU with 24 points while Clover had a season-high 19. James Demery scored 16 points and Taylor Funk had 15, making four three-pointers, for the Hawks.

Livingston finished with 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting, and a 5-for-6 effort from three-point range. Ian Boyd added 15 for the Patriots, Jaire Grayer scored 13 and Justin Kier had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

George Mason took its biggest lead of the game, 67-55, with over nine minutes to play but SJU scored seven straight to come within, 67-62.

The Hawks stayed within striking distance the rest of the game, never trailing by more than seven points. After Livingston hit his fourth three-pointer of the night to build GMU’s lead to 72-65, Clover made a three of his own to pull SJU within, 72-68. Funk followed with a three at 3:39 to cut SJU’s deficit to 72-71 but Kier hit a jumper to maintain Mason’s lead, 74-71. Saint Joseph’s would come within a point two more times, and trailed 78-77 at :45 on a free throw by Nick Robinson. A three-point attempt by Newkirk at :15 was off the mark and then Grayer missed a free throw at :12.

After a miss on their next attempt, the Hawks retained possession and Pierfrancesco Oliva inbounded underneath to Clover, who hit the layup at :05 to give SJU its first and last lead of the second half.

The fast-paced first half saw the teams trading baskets throughout the first few minutes. George Mason broke a 12-12 tie and eventually expanded it to 26-18. The Hawks went without a field goal for almost three minutes until Newkirk broke the streak with a pair of threes to pull SJU within, 30-25.

Grayer hit two jumpers to build the GMU lead back up to 35-27, but a three by Funk and layup by Demery got the Hawks within 35-32. Saint Joseph’s cut it to a three-point margin a few times in the final minutes of the half, but Mason scored the final basket of the half and had the 47-42 lead at the break.

It was the most points allowed in a half (47) by the Hawks and the highest shooting percentage by an opponent (63%) this year.

Saint Joseph’s committed only three turnovers in the game, but struggled from the foul line in the second half, making just 8-of-13.

The Hawks will play their second straight road game on Sunday, January 14 when they visit Massachusetts. The 5 p.m. game will be televised on NBCSN.

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