This one was damaging.
Saint Joseph’s had a season-high three-game winning streak and was playing at Hagan Arena, where the Hawks had won nine of 11 games.
George Mason beat St. Joe’s last month in Fairfax, Va., by draining a three-point shot at the buzzer. Still, the Patriots also came to Hawk Hill having lost five of eight games.
This was an opportunity for a St. Joseph’s team that had few opportunities left to gain momentum in the homestretch of the season.
Sometimes, however, history has a way of repeating itself.
Ian Boyd made a three-pointer as time expired as George Mason held off a furious second-half rally from the Hawks to pick up a 79-76 victory on Thursday in an Atlantic 10 game.
Trailing by as much as 20 points in the second half, the Hawks (12-15, 7-8) fought back and tied the game on two free throws by Shavar Newkirk (23 points) with 5.6 seconds remaining.
George Mason sophomore guard Justin Kier took the inbounds pass and dribbled up court, but was trapped in a double team just outside the three-point line.
Kier went to the ground and lost the ball, which rolled to Boyd (12 points). He picked it up and dropped in the trey just before the buzzer sounded.
It was a big loss for the Hawks, who missed an opportunity to move into a tie for fourth place in the A-10 with St. Louis and Virginia Commonwealth – both 8-7 in the league.
The fourth-place team gets a double-bye into the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament.
“This was not a one-possession game,” St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli said. “We didn’t lose because the ball went in at the end. We lost because we did not have an emotional commitment to the game for 33 or 34 minutes.
“We didn’t really have anybody who was committed to the game. With all that we had riding, I just said that to them. Some nights you don’t get what you deserve. This wasn’t one. We didn’t expend energy until the last six or seven minutes of the game.”
At George Mason (13-15, 7-8), Otis Livingston II made the three-pointer that beat the Hawks, 81-79.
This time, over the first 20 minutes, Saint Joseph’s had the bad combination of missing a lot of shots and not grabbing a bunch of rebounds.
The Hawks aren’t the greatest shooting team, but 36.7 percent (11-for-30) was dreadful. They missed their first nine shots from three-point range didn’t get their first three until Newkirk hit one with 35 seconds left in the first half. They finished 4 for 22 from distance.
GMU also made six three-pointers in the first half, and led, 37-26, at intermission. The Hawks missed their first five shots of the second half and found themselves down, 51-31, with 14-½ minutes left in the game.
Chris Clover added 21 points for St. Joe’s, which was without senior James Demery (17.2 ppg.) because of an ankle sprain.