Ian Boyd hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to give George Mason (13-15; 7-8 A-10) a 79-76 win over Saint Joseph's (12-15; 7-8) in Atlantic 10 action at Hagan Arena, ruining the Hawks' comeback from a 20-point deficit and snapping their three-game winning streak.
Shavar Newkirk, who scored 14 points for SJU in the final three minutes, drained a pair of free throws with 5.6 seconds to go to tie the score at 76-76. After a George Mason timeout, the Patriots inbounded and after a scramble for the ball past midcourt, Boyd picked it up and made the 28-footer. It was a similar finish to the first meeting of the teams this year when Otis Livingston II connected on a three-pointer as time expired to give GMU an 81-79 win over the Hawks in Virginia.
Newkirk finished with a game-high 23 points, while Chris Clover tied his career-high with 21 points on 8-for-16 shooting. Nick Robinson had 13 points and Taylor Funk notched a career-high 13 rebounds for the Hawks, who played without starter James Demery because of an ankle sprain.
Justin Kier led GMU with 19 points, Goanar Mar had 16, Livingston scored 13 and Boyd finished with 12 points.
George Mason led for all but 17 seconds in the game and after taking a 37-26 lead at halftime, built it up to 53-33 at the 14:56 mark of the second half.
The Hawks pushed the tempo and began to chip away at the deficit, as Clover scored six in an 8-0 run to pull SJU within, 53-41. The Patriots maintained the advantage and upped it to 59-44 with 7:50 to go, but seven straight by the Hawks cut it to 59-51 at 6:24.
With George Mason leading 66-53 at 3:58, a layup by Robinson and three-pointer from Newkirk at 3:08 cut the Hawks' deficit to 66-58. A three-point play by Newkirk at 1:06 pulled SJU within 66-62 before the teams started trading baskets and free throws in the final minute. With the Hawks trailing 75-72, Funk was fouled on a three-point attempt and converted all three from the line to cut Mason's lead to 75-74 at :15. Kier missed his first free throw in eight tries at :12, setting the stage for Newkirk to tie the game with under six seconds to play.
The Patriots connected on 10-of-12 free throws in the final minute, led by a 7-for-8 effort from Kier.
"It was not a one-possession game. We didn't lose because the ball went in at the end, we lost because we didn't have emotional commitment to the game for 33-34 minutes," said Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli. "It was on us. There's nothing tough about it. We didn't really have anybody committed to the game. And with all that we have riding on this . . . Some nights you don't get what you deserve. We spent energy in the last five or six minutes, but we gave up an offensive rebound at the end of the first half. We gave up an offensive rebound on a missed free throw. We got a guy walk to the line and go 0-for-2 from the line. It's not that play. Eleven turnovers is really inexcusable."
"We just didn't have a spark. It wouldn't have mattered who it was. We didn't have it," said the coach, who saw his team score a season-high 50 points in the second half.
The teams struggled offensively early in the first half, as Saint Joseph's missed nine three-point attempts before connecting on their first one, and George Mason held a 17-15 lead with 13 minutes elapsed.
Mar and Livingston sparked the Patriots with back-to-back three-pointers to give them a 27-17 lead with 3:41 left in the half.
The Hawks go on the road for a pair of games heading into the final week of the regular season. SJU will visit Richmond on Saturday and then have a quick turnaround and travel to league-leading Rhode Island on Tuesday night.