Senior John Vaughan scored the game-winning layup with five seconds left as George Mason defeated North Carolina-Wilmington 53-52 Wednesday night at Trask Arena.
Mason led 49-40 with 3:39 remaining, but the host Seahawks (7-23 overall, 3-14 CAA) went on a 12-2 run to take the lead. The UNCW spurt was highlighted by three long balls, two by Montez Downey and one by Chad Tomko, who each scored a game-high 17 points.
Downey's three-pointer with 21 seconds left gave UNCW a 52-51 lead.
Mason had four timeouts but decided to play for the final shot.
Darryl Monroe found Vaughan inside, where he put it home with five ticks to go. Tomko's desperation trey at the buzzer was no good, lifting Mason to the one-point win and ending a six-game road losing streak.
Dre Smith led Mason in scoring with 13 points, 11 of which came in the second half. Smith entered the game 0-for-26 this month from beyond the arc, but he finally netted a trey in the second half to end the streak.
Cam Long scored nine points, all of which came on three-point shots. Freshman Mike Morrison came off the bench to score eight for Mason and Vaughan finished with seven points.
Mason shot 41.5 percent from the floor, but only hit 20.4 percent from three-point land. Mason controlled the boards, 37-34, and held UNCW to 32 percent shooting. The Seahawks, who sit in the cellar of the CAA, managed to convert ten three-pointers, but shot a dismal 44 percent from the free throw line (8-for-18).
With the victory, Mason (19-9, 12-5) earned a first-round bye in next week's CAA tournament at Richmond, Va. The Patriots will attempt to secure the No. 2 seed when Towson visits the Patriot Center on Saturday night at 8 p.m. for the home finale.
Vaughan, Monroe, Smith, and Fleming will be honored at the game. It will be Super Fan's final 40 minutes at the Patriot Center, too.
The game will be on MASN if you can't make it out to Mason on Saturday night. Let's pack the house one more time and attempt perfection at home for the first time in school history!
Bring the tissues. I may need them at the final fight song.