Duquesne (12-16) at George Mason (11-18)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 8, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Patriot Center (10,000) -- Fairfax, Virginia. Television: MASN. Home Record: Duquesne 6-9, GMU 6-7. Away Record: Duquesne 6-6, GMU 4-8. Neutral Record: Duquesne 0-1, GMU 1-3. Conference Record: Duquesne 4-11, GMU 4-11. Series Record: George Mason leads, 5-2.
GAME NOTES: Key seeding for next week's Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament is on the line tonight when George Mason hosts the Duquesne Dukes in the regular- season finale at the Patriot Center.
The winner secures a spot in Thursday's first round, while the loser must play an opening-round game on Wednesday.
Duquesne has lost three of its last four games and is coming off Wednesday's 78-74 setback to Massachusetts. A win here for the Dukes would give them the No. 10 seed in a Thursday evening matchup against the No. 7 seed, while a loss would drop them to the 12th seed against No. 13 Fordham on Wednesday, with the winner moving on to face the No. 5 seed the following day.
The stakes are similar for a George Mason squad that has won two of three, including Thursday's 59-57 road triumph over La Salle. The Patriots have won four of seven after starting 0-8 in league play. That turnaround began with a 74-68 win over Duquesne on Feb. 8 at the Palumbo Center.
Mason holds a 5-2 lead in the all-time series. However, the last time these teams met up in Fairfax was on Dec. 21, 2011, when Duquesne notched a 75-64 victory to snap GMU's 18-game Patriot Center win streak and hand the Patriots their first double-digit home loss in more than four years.
The Dukes put up a strong fight in their last outing, but ultimately they were unable to keep pace with a UMass squad that connected on 10-of-25 attempts from beyond the arc (.400). Duquesne had several chances to tie or take the lead in the final two minutes but could not get it done. Micah Mason led the way with 20 points behind a 4-of-6 effort from the perimeter in the loss, while Ovie Soko recorded a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Soko (18.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg) entered the weekend just a fraction of a point behind Fordham's Jon Severe (18.3 ppg) in the A-10 scoring race. Soko ranks second nationally in free-throw attempts (273) and is on pace to set the school record. Mason (11.0 ppg) leads the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (.571), and his 43 treys in league play are tops in the A-10. The sophomore has 67 assists against only 11 turnovers on the season.
On the other side of the floor, the guard tandem of Sherrod Wright (15.5 ppg) and Bryon Allen (15.1 ppg) headlines George Mason's roster. Wright has a penchant for getting to the charity stripe (team-high 174 attempts), whereas Allen and reserve Patrick Holloway (8.9 ppg) have combined to shoot 40 percent from beyond the arc (86-of-215). The Patriots limited La Salle to 33.9 percent shooting from the floor in Thursday's game, and they committed only three second-half turnovers. Marko Gujanicic had a team-high 15 points to go along with eight rebounds, while Holloway contributed 10 points in 19 minutes as GMU's bench held a 31-8 scoring advantage over La Salle's reserves. The Patriots also won the rebounding battle, 43-35.
GMU won the first head-to-head meeting this season, but the Dukes have been more successful on the road for one reason or another. This one could come down to the final possession as these teams are fairly evenly matched and both would prefer to avoid Wednesday's opening round.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: George Mason 74, Duquesne 70
03/08 11:45:35 ET