WASHINGTON D.C. – George Mason has a knack winning close games. Buzzer beaters, late game heroics, and overtime has been a theme for the Patriots in Atlantic-10 play this season.
However, this time against Massachusetts in the A-10 Tournament, it did not come down to one final shot.
The shot never got off.
Down three with four seconds on the clock, UMass’ Luwane Pipkins looked to quickly race the ball up the court for the potential game-tying shot.
As he crossed the halfcourt line, Mason’s Javon Greene collapsed on him with a potential screen ahead.
On the edge of the sideline, Pipkins extended his arm against Greene and then got called for a push-off foul.
Real time view pic.twitter.com/Yds0PzoRQJ— Nick Plum (@nickplum) March 8, 2018
A foul yes, but barely any contact.
"It is was it is. It wasn't frusting at all," Pipkins said.
"The ref made the call. The game's over."
He handled it better than anyone associated with UMass in all of Capital One Arena.
Massachusetts head coach Matt McCall was irate, probably should have been called for a technical, but rightfully so. Without the ball even making it past the time line, UMass had already lost.
Sophomore Pipkins was the guy to take the shot. He was already up to 31 points on the night with five three-pointers and perfect from the line (9-9). In the first half, he scored eight straight points to give them a 28-14 lead.
However, one cannot say the botched call is the sole reason the Minutemen lost. They were once up 14 points in the first half, allowed George Mason to get 20 offensive rebounds, and sent Mason’s best free throw shooter to the line 14 times. Either way if you are the official, you have to swallow the whistle in that situation.
George Mason (16-16, 9-9 Atlantic 10) escaped with the 80-75 victory after leading for only five minutes in the game.
Otis Livingston II had an off-shooting night (3-11 from the field) but managed to clean it up by going to the free throw line a perfect 14-for-14. He led the Patriots with 21 points as three other players reached double figures.
The Minutemen (13-20, 5-13) shot 53 percent from the field and 56 percent from the behind the arc, but kept giving up offensive board after offensive board. They were behind 26-6 in second chance points.
Advancing to the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, the No. 5 seed George Mason will now play No. 4 Saint Joseph’s for the third time in 2018. The first two times ended off George Mason buzzer beaters.