FAIRFAX, VA - George Mason found themselves trailing 11-points in the 2nd half with over 13 minutes remaining before they went on 17-8 run in the following eight minutes to help force overtime.
In overtime, they outscored the Matadors 12-7 to clinch their third win of the season, 78-73.
"We have to be better at the start," Mason head coach Dave Paulsen said about the victory. "We have some things that we have to correct, but it's better to correct them after a win."
The Matadors didn't give much room for Mason's guards to breathe in the first half, holding their perimeter scores to under 50% shooting.
Tavrion Dawson was the Matadors biggest contributor, scoring 26 points while shooting 11/20 from the field. He was a force Mason struggled to stop. There were plenty of times throughout the game Dawson imposed his will on Mason defenders inside the paint.
"He's a handful," Paulsen said about the 6'7 forward. "Our matchup zone put them on their heels.... that was good because we had no chance of guarding him for the whole night."
Mason had two players finish with 20-points, Goanar Mar (22) and Otis Livingston (20). Livingston scored 13 points between the 2nd half and overtime. One of his buckets came during that 2nd half push, a sweet Jelly Roll layup that resulted in an AND-1 to give Mason their first lead of the half.
Another huge contributor was redshirt freshman, AJ Wilson. Wilson finished with 12 points and eight blocks in 22 minutes of playing time. Mason has played with four guards for much of the short season but the 6'8 Wilson gave them some support inside the paint and took some of the load off of Mar.
"[Wilson] came out with a lot of energy early," Mar said. "It helped out a lot."
Justin Kier, Mason's leading scorer, was injured on a loose ball play during the first half. He played for over 40 minutes but only took three shot attempts. Paulsen doesn't think he will be affected too much by it.
In overtime, Mason built a 72-68 lead with over two minutes remaining. The Matadors closed the gap thanks to back-to-back buckets from D.C. native, Michael Warren, and Dawson. On the Matadors final possession trailing 73-76, Lyrik Shreiner missed an open Warren on the perimeter, instead, taking an ill-advised lay-up.
Warren fouled out on the following play with 18 points and seven rebounds.
Mason will travel to Cancun, Mexico for the 2nd round of the Cancun Challenge to take on Lousiana Tech.