FAIRFAX, Va. - The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team put together another solid outing on Thursday night at George Mason, but it was not quite enough as the Quakers fell to the Patriots, 80-77, at the Patriot Center.
Penn had a chance to tie the game with 7.7 seconds left. An inbounds play got Tony Hicks the ball on the far sideline, but he was covered and forced to improvise. His last-second shot was off the mark as the buzzer sounded.
It was an unfortunate ending for Hicks, who re-emerged from an offensive slump over the last few weeks to lead the Quakers with 23 points and a career-high six assists. Fran Dougherty added 17 points and had another solid night on the boards (9 rebounds), while Miles Jackson-Cartwright knocked down four more three-pointers en route to 16 points on the night.
Penn was up 43-39 after Dougherty put back a Hicks miss to start the second half, but Mason took control after that and gradually built up as much as an 11-point lead with three minutes left in the game.
Penn still had a run left. It started innocently, with just over two minutes left, when Dougherty was fouled and hit the first of two free throws. He missed the second, but a foul was called on Mason during the rebound and that put Henry Brooks on the line. He hit both shots, and that made the score 77-69 with 2:04 to play.
Mason missed its next shot, but Bagtas was called for being out of bounds as he released a three-point shot in transition. The Quakers then fouled GMU’s Johnny Williams, and he obliged that move by missing free throws. On Penn’s ensuing possession, Hicks hit a layup and was fouled. He made the free throw, and it was 77-72 with 1:09 left.
Penn forced a steal near midcourt, but Hicks got caught in-between the layup and the dunk and as a result he missed the open bunny. The Quakers were forced to foul Sherrod Wright, and he made one of two to make the score 78-72 with 43 seconds left.
Jackson-Cartwright was fouled with 34 seconds left and made both shots to make the score 78-74, but Mason smartly got the ball in the hands of Bryon Allen. Penn fouled him. Allen went to the line and did what he did all night -- make them. He ended the game 11-of-11 at the charity stripe en route to a game-high 24 points.
Down six with 23 seconds left, Penn worked the ball to Hicks and he drained his fourth trey of the night to make it a one-possession game. The Quakers then forced the ball to Williams and fouled him. Once again, he obliged with a pair of misses, Penn got the rebound and called timeout in front of its bench to set up the final play.
Penn used a 10-point run early in the game to take a double-digit lead, and while the lead was sustained throughout the half the Patriots refused to go away.
George Mason took 36 foul shots to Penn’s 16, and outrebounded the Quakers 36-30. Penn did a much better job of taking care of the ball in the second half -- just four turnovers, after committing 11 in the first half -- but the shots stopped falling (32.4 percent, after shooting 63.0 percent in the first period).
Penn returns to action on Saturday afternoon, hosting city rival La Salle in its third Big 5 game of the season. A reminder that the tip time for that game has changed; it will now tip off at 4 p.m. (Originally scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.)
Game Notes: This was the first meeting between these programs in men’s basketball … Penn played the game without the services of Darien Nelson-Henry (concussion), Camryn Crocker (knee), Patrick Lucas-Perry (knee) and Julian Harrell (knee, late scratch) … Penn had 10 steals, just the second time this season the Quakers have reached double figures in that category (also 13 at Monmouth) … Penn hit nine three-point baskets, one shy of the season high set in its previous game at Rider … George Mason became just the second opponent this season to shoot better than 45 percent from the field; the Patriots shot 45.3 percent (24-53) … Penn is 2-3 this season when leading at the half; in the three losses, their halftime leads were 1 (Lafayette), 1 (Wagner), and 2 (George Mason) … Sophomore Tony Hicks led Penn with 23 points, his 23rd career double-figure scoring game at Penn and his sixth time going over 20 points … Prior to his outburst on Thursday, Hicks had scored 24 points combined in Penn’s previous four games … Hicks also set a career high with six assists and tied a season high with four three-point baskets … Senior Fran Dougherty scored 17 points, his 15thdouble-figure scoring game at Penn, and just missed a double-double with nine rebounds … After averaging 3.5 rebound per game in Penn’s first four games, Dougherty is averaging 8.4 rpg in the last seven contests and has had at least nine in five of the last six games … Junior Greg Louis set a season high with 21 minutes played … Louis had eight points and five rebounds, both one shy of his season high set in his season debut, against Niagara … Senior Miles Jackson-Cartwright set a season high with two steals … Jackson-Cartwright had 16 points, his 58th double-figure scoring game at Penn which leads all active players … Before his layup with 30 seconds left in the first half, Jackson-Cartwright’s previous 10 baskets (dating back to Marist) had been three-pointers; his only field goals in the second half were a pair of treys … In the last five games, 19 of Jackson-Cartwright’s 23 made field goals are three-pointers … Jackson-Cartwright now has 1,218 points for his career which is 25th in Penn history; Dick Censits (1956-58) is 24th with 1,220 points, while Dave Wohl (1969-71) is 23rd with 1,226 points and Ron Haigler (1971-73) is 22nd with 1,236 points.