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Williams helps No. 16 UMass edge George Mason
Massachusetts’ senior point guard had 26 points and eight assists, and Derrick Gordon made a go-ahead layup with 8 seconds remaining as the 16th-ranked Minutemen beat the Patriots 88-87 on Wednesday night.
UMass (15-1, 3-0 Atlantic 10) rallied from eight points down in the second half - including a five-point deficit with 45 seconds remaining - to win its fifth straight.
“It’s just one of those days where adrenaline takes over,” said Williams, who was injured in the second half of Saturday’s win over St. Bonaventure. “I didn’t want to sit out, honestly. Coach asked me, and I told him ‘no’, I didn’t want to sit out. And after that, I told the team, ‘I’m here, and let’s play’.
“I really didn’t want to favor it tonight, and use that as an excuse.”
Sherrod Wright scored 26 points, Bryon Allen had 21 and Jalen Jenkins added 16 points and nine rebounds to lead the Patriots (7-10, 0-3), who lost their fourth straight and eighth in 10 games. George Mason was seeking its first win over a ranked opponent in over six years.
Williams, who entered the game second in the country in assists at 7.5 per game, shot 11 for 17 from the field - including a layup to draw the Minutemen to 87-86 with 18 seconds remaining. Williams‘ basket came after the first of two costly late turnovers by Wright.
Wright’s first turnover occurred when he stepped on the sideline while throwing an inbound pass at midcourt. His second, which occurred on a steal in the backcourt by Williams, led to Gordon’s game-winner off a missed layup by Williams.
Gordon, who finished with 10 points, had re-entered after suffering a lower back injury on a drive to the basket earlier in the half.
“We got a little lucky there at the end,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “A couple balls bounced our way and our guys made some big plays. I think they locked in like they have all year, and we came away with a big road victory.
“I told the refs at the end that we were actually not trying to foul, that’s not what we do. I thought that they just let us play through.”
Wright scored 12 points in the opening 4 minutes of the second half as George Mason extended a 47-45 halftime advantage to 59-52. The Patriots would eventually push their lead to 67-59 on a layup by Jenkins with 11:38 remaining.
The Minutemen, who shot 55 percent from the field, rallied back and took their first lead of the half, 77-76, on a 3-pointer by Trey Davis with 4:08 to play.
Cady Lalanne added 19 points and nine rebounds for UMass before fouling out on a three-point play by Allen with 6:03 remaining.
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