George Mason’s Byron Allen hit an improbable off-balance three-pointer to beat the shot clock to put his team ahead for good with 1:02 remaining, serving the Virginia men’s basketball team a 63-59 loss in the season opener.
The loss snaps a 14-game winning streak in season openers for the Cavaliers (0-1, 0-0 ACC), who competed without four players — including 2011-2012 key contributors senior point guard Jontel Evans and sophomore guard Malcolm Brogdon. It also marks the Patriots’ (1-0, 0-0 CAA) first ever win against Virginia.
Despite a steady 19-point, eight-rebound effort from junior guard Joe Harris, Virginia sputtered offensively to a paltry 40.4 percent field goal shooting. George Mason, meanwhile, shot 54.5 percent and prevailed despite missing 10-of-17 free throws in the second half and 11-of-19 overall.
The Cavaliers started three freshmen for the first time in program history. Center Mike Tobey and guards Justin Anderson and Taylor Barnette combined for 14 points in their debut, and fellow freshman forward Evan Nolte chipped in 6 points from the bench.
Virginia returns to action Monday when it hosts the NIT Season Tip-Off and plays Fairfield in the first game. Delaware and Penn will also compete in the four-team tournament for the chance to play in the national NIT Tip-Off Tournament in Madison Square Garden next week.