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UMass Stunned by George Mason

As Derrick Gordon missed an easy floater and the Massachusetts men's basketball team ran back on defense the other way, coach Derek Kellogg kicked the bottom of the scorer's table behind him.

(Photo courtesy Stephen Sellner)

Earlier, a Maxie Esho foul prompted the forward to pound the stanchion underneath the hoop. Later, when he fouled out with 2:49 to go at the near sideline, he slammed the table in front of the radio team's monitor as he walked back to the bench.

At one point, Chaz Williams was even seen yelling at Raphiael Putney on the court.

Frustration was apparent all around, and rightfully so, as the Minutemen lost 91-80 to last-place George Mason on Wednesday night in front of 5,322 at the Mullins Center. Less than a month after UMass pulled off a miracle last-minute comeback on the road against the Patriots, it failed to come up with enough stops down the stretch to claw back after falling behind by as many as 17 in the second half.

It was the Minutemen's (19-5, 6-4 Atlantic 10) first home loss of the season.

“There's not really much to say,” said UMass coach Derek Kellogg, who took more time than usual to arrive to his postgame press conference. “I thought we got outplayed and lost a home game, one that we should’ve won and played a little better and a little more energized (in). I don’t think that was one of our better games of the season, to say the least.”

Trey Davis scored a career-high 20 points and added six assists for UMass while Sampson Carter chipped in 16 points. Chaz Williams had one of his worst games of the season, finishing with eight points on 3-of-15 shooting.

The senior point guard was noticeably absent down the stretch due to what Kellogg described as a series of lingering injuries.

The Minutemen, authors of several late comebacks this season, seemed to wake up from its dry spell midway through the second half hell-bent on pulling off another come-from-behind win. Two Esho free throws cut the lead to 12 with 11:06 left, Carter then drew a charge and Esho made another free throw on the next trip down to make it an 11-point game. The Mullins Center was growing loud, sensing yet another comeback.

But Carter fouled Marquise Moore on a 3-pointer on George Mason's next possession, and the forward knocked all of them down. It took the life out of any momentum UMass seemed to have, and it was a microcosm of all the mistakes the Minutemen made in the game coming back to haunt them.

UMass finished 7-of-25 from 3-point range, missed 11 free throws and only connected on 39.7 percent of its shots for the game.

And every time the Minutemen gave push, the Patriots (9-15, 2-8 A-10) had the answer. The biggest responder to any UMass run was guard Sherrod Wright, the man who almost single-handedly won George Mason the game in the two teams' first meeting last month.

This time, he did. The senior scored 22 points – 13 of them coming in the second half – on 8-of-14 shooting. He said after the game that after the Minutemen came back the way they did last month, his team learned a lesson in figuring out how to finish and fight back when UMass made its run in the second half.

“He took the game over,” George Mason coach Paul Hewitt said. “They made a run at us and he took the game over. We didn't call any plays or anything like that, he just made plays.”

After falling behind by 12 at halftime, UMass could never seem to get it back to a single-digit deficit. Raphiael Putney's free throw with 1:53 to go made it a nine-point game, but at that point any kind of comeback was out of the Minutemen's grasp.

UMass will look to rebound from its tough loss Saturday at George Washington.

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