George Mason led Villanova by four points with under a minute to play. The Patriots were up 9 on the Wildcats at the half and led by as many as 12. It looked like George Mason might just have a little Cinderella magic left in the tank after their recent magical run to the Final Four.
It was not to be. With just over thirteen seconds to play in the game the clock stuck midnight and Cinderella was not able to complete the upset over the 5th ranked Wildcats.
The dagger came in the form of a three pointer from ‘Nova freshman Isaiah Armwood who was only playing late in the game because the Cats were in big time foul trouble. Corey Stokes, Maurice Sutton, Antonio Pena, and Taylor King had all fouled out of the game. Villanova was already missing starting forward Mouph Yarou who had to fly home from Puerto Rico before the game with a viral infection.
Villanova looked nothing like the team that shot over 59 percent from the field against Penn on Monday night. Even their usually well-dressed coach Jay Wright had traded in his designer suit for a white short-sleeved polo shirt.
It was one of the worst games they have played in recent history. However, in the end the good teams find a way to win. After Armwood knocked down his three-pointer the Wildcats went into lock-down defensive mode and the Patriots, who had the ball with thirteen seconds to play trailing by only one point, were not able to get a shot off.
This game was anything but pretty. With George Mason attempting to once again for a Cinderella upset, Villanova looked more like the ugly step-sisters.
The Wildcats shot just 35 percent from the field (on 19 of 54). It didn’t get any better from the free-throw line where Villanova missed 16 of 39 to shoot just 59 percent.
‘Nova’s guards were able to get to the bucket all day but couldn’t get the ball to go down. Corey Fisher was the only Wildcat was first half double digit scoring and all 10 points came from the free-throw line (where he was 14 of 18 for the game). He finished with 17 points on a 1 for 14 shooting night from the floor. He also had 6 rebounds, 5 of which were on the offensive glass.
Corey Stokes, who was averaging 17 points a game, missed all four shots he took, hit one free-throw and fouled out with one point and six rebounds.
Antonio Pena added another double-double before fouling out totaling 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Taylor King, who got the start in place of Yarou and did not have a field-goal in the first half, scored eight points; Maalik Wayns added nine; and Sutton and Armwood scored three a piece.
Senior guard Scottie Reynolds led Villanova with 18 points. It was his assist that led to Armwood’s game winning shot.
There were over 50 fouls called by the refs in this game and because of all the game stoppage and foul trouble, neither time was really able to get into a flow for more than a few minutes at a time.
George Mason shot 40 percent from the field (19 of 47) and 73 percent from the charity stripe (27 for 37).
The young Patriots team, consisting almost entirely of freshman and sophomores, was led by Ryan Pearson with 14 points and eight rebounds. Cam Long and Andre Cornelius added 13 points each.
Villanova won the war on the glass edging out George Mason 36 to 27.
It has often been said that the great teams find a way to win. Only time will tell if this Villanova team falls into that category; but today, in Puerto Rico, with half of their team fouled out, they got a game winning three-pointer from a freshman coming off the end of their bench. It was his only shot attempt of the game.
It may not have been a Cinderella ending for George Mason, but Isaiah Armwood should sleep comfortably in his glass slippers tonight.
Villanova will take on Dayton tomorrow in the second round. Dayton downed Georgia Tech 63-59 in their first round match up today.