Dec. 30, 2008
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In the same building where George Mason began its Cinderella run to the Final Four in 2006, its luck finally ran out in the final moments at UD Arena on Tuesday.
Juniors Rob Lowery and Marcus Johnson each scored 13 points to lead Dayton to a 66-62 comeback victory over the Patriots in a game that saw 10 lead changes.
Whenever Dayton needed a clutch bucket, first-year Flyers Lowery and Chris Johnson delivered as both made the most of a rare insertion to the starting line-up.
Trailing by two points with just over two minutes remaining, Lowery intercepted a pass and went coast-to-coast for an uncontested slam, tying the game after the Flyers had trailed by as many as seven.
Chris Johnson's three-pointer on UD's next possession gave Dayton a 65-62 lead it did not relinquish. The Patriots missed both shot attempts it took in the final minute of the game.
With the win, Dayton improved to 12-1 while George Mason fell to 8-3.
Both teams shot 43 percent for the game, but Dayton dominated the glass. Their 42-29 advantage on the boards helped Dayton to a 23-7 edge in second chance points.
The Flyers looked inside to junior forward Kurt Huelsman early and often in the first half. Just over 10 minutes into the game, Huelsman had eight shot attempts, which already surpassed his season-high of seven attempts. He had seven points at the half and helped UD build an early lead.
However, George Mason heated up, using a 6-0 run midway through the half to take an 18-15 lead.
The Flyers hung close, aided by a stretch of six consecutive points by Marcus Johnson. With 3:59 remaining, his free throw cut the lead to 30-28.
The Patriots answered with a 5-0 run, but the Flyers took momentum into halftime. On their final possession following a blocked shot by Marcus Johnson, Chris Johnson thundered home a baseline slam dunk to pull UD within five at the half.
George Mason held a slim lead for much of the second before Dayton turned up the defensive pressure.
Trailing by five, Lowery picked up a loose ball and pushed ahead to Chris Johnson, who finished with a slam.
Minutes later, Dayton took its first lead since the score was 15-13 when sophomore Chris Wright finished a four-on-one fast break lay-up with 10:16 left to play, putting UD up 50-48.
The Patriots stormed back with a 12-5 spurt to take a 60-55 lead with 4:42 remaining. Lowery and Chris Johnson took over when things looked grim for UD. Lowery started Dayton's final push with an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and dished to Wright for a dunk. Wright scored UD's next five points.
Lowery's critical steal and slam 1:35 later tied the game at 62, and Chris Johnson's clutch three put the Flyers up 65-62 with just over one minute remaining.
Lowery sealed the win with a free throw to send 13,107 Flyer fans home happy with the 66-62 vicotry.
Other contributors for UD included sophomore Chris Wright who scored all nine points in the second half, and Chris Johnson with eight points and a game-high nine rebounds.
The Flyers will be back in action on Friday, Jan. 2 at Toledo. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. EST, and it will be the final non-conference road game for Dayton before kicking off Atlantic 10 Conference play. WHIO-TV will broadcast the game.