Mason prayers answered, Rams stunned at buzzer
Mason reserve guard Sharrod Wright sank a last second three-pointer as time expired, giving Mason the come from behind 62-61 win. The shot was GMU’s third 3-pointer within the last 30 seconds of play, and fourth made basket in as many tries.
Freshman Briante Weber, having iced VCU’s win a game prior with free throws against Old Dominion, hit five of six attempts at the line over the last 43 seconds of play. Unfortunately for VCU, they needed perfection from Weber when Mason just couldn’t miss.
Weber’s first two gave the Rams a 56-51 lead until Ryan Pearson hit Mason’s first three of the run, giving the senior forward 24 points on the night.
Eight seconds later Troy Daniels went two-for-two at the stripe, stretching the Ram lead back to four.
Mason’s Vaughn Gray then hit a jumper with 13 seconds to play, cutting the lead to two.
Briante Weber hit two more free throws, extending it to four once more with just 10 seconds to play.
Vertail Vaughns answered with a tre with four seconds remaining, his fourth in a 14-point outing for the sophomore.
Mason then fouled Weber again on the inbound with 3.8 seconds left on the clock, sending him to the line where this time he would miss his first free throw before sinking the second.
An unguarded Pearson then inbounded the ball to Wright, who took three dribbles before pulling up just a bit outside of NBA range and hit the game winner in front of a defending Rob Brandenberg.
Any at large hopes VCU had all but vanished with that final shot, as VCU’s 83 RPI with limited quality wins heading into this one left little room for error.
VCU will get two days to think about this one before taking on Northern Iowa (17-10, 7-8 MVC) in an ESPN2 televised Bracket Busters matchup.
The Rams then return to CAA play at UNCW (9-17, 5-11 CAA) before getting a rematch with Mason in a nationally televised (ESPN or ESPN2) senior night battle Feb. 25th.
A win at UNCW would guarantee a top three finish for the Rams, a rematch win against the Patriots would most likely potentially give them a second-place finish, depending on the finishes of Georgia State, Delaware and Northeastern.
Either way, the Rams and Patriots may very well be headed for a CAA tournament semi-final collision course, IF both teams can win one the first weekend in March.