Senior guard Sherrod Wright had 23 points as George Mason snapped its nine-game losing streak with a 74-68 win against Duquesne Saturday at Palumbo Center. It was the first Atlantic 10 Conference win in program history for the Patriots (8-15, 1-8).
The Dukes (10-12, 2-7) got 21 points and eight rebounds from senior forward Ovie Soko, but trailed nearly start to finish, save a one-point lead in the second half that lasted only 43 seconds and lost their third game in a row.
George Mason senior guards Wright and Bryon Allen combined for 40 points, and the Patriots shot 61.9 percent from the field in the second half.
“It just never clicked [Saturday],” second-year Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said. “It’s frustrating because it’s too late in the season for that to be happening.”
Duquesne sophomore guard Micah Mason, who entered the game with the best 3-point percentage (.583) in Division I, scored 16 points and hit 4 of 5 3-point attempts.
“I’m not too worried about hitting 3s,” Mason said afterward. “I’m more worried about getting wins.”
Duquesne hit 10 3-pointers but shot just 12 of 21 from the free-throw line. The Dukes are rarely outdone at the line, but the Patriots hit 20 of 28 free-throw attempts.
“We normally make more free throws than our opponents attempt,” Ferry said, “and they basically did that do us.”
A common theme in its current three-game skid, Duquesne was again beaten on the boards, as George Mason took advantage of a size disparity to gain a 36-30 rebounding edge.
“They beast people on the glass,” Ferry said.
Junior center Dominique McKoy, who averages 7.5 rebounds per game, spent much of the game on the bench with foul trouble and finished with two points and no rebounds.
Duquesne trailed by as many as eight points in the first half before closing the half with back-to-back 3-pointers from sophomore guard Derrick Colter and Mason to close the gap to 32-31 at the break.
McKoy sank a 15-foot jump shot on the opening possession of the second half to give the Dukes their first lead.
Even then, Ferry said, “It never felt like we were playing together.”
After freshman forward L.G. Gill converted a 3-pointer at the 16:30 mark, the Dukes didn’t make another field goal for nearly seven minutes, and their deficit stretched to nine points.
A Mason 3-pointer with seven minutes remaining made it a four-point game, but that’s as close as it would get, as the Patriots scurried away with a quick, 14-6 scoring run.
“When you’re not defending to a high level and giving up a lot of rebounds,” Ferry said, “that’s what happens.”
Added Soko: “We’re not the only team in this league to have gone on a three-game losing streak.”
Perhaps not — seven teams have lost three games consecutive games in Atlantic 10 play this season — but the Dukes are the first to do it twice.
“Hey, it’s going to happen twice to a lot of people,” Ferry said. “This stretch of the league is tough. … You can’t put your head down. You can’t mope. You can’t sulk.”
Stephen J. Nesbitt: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt. First Published February 8, 2014 4:09 PM