EditorsNote: revises first two grafs to add matchups
The George Mason Patriots used strong late-game defense to defeat the Nebraska Cornhuskers 85-66 Tuesday night in the semifinal of the Cayman Islands Classic in George Town, Cayman Islands.
With the win, George Mason moves on to the tournament final on Wednesday when it will face New Mexico State, which beat South Florida 65-45 on Tuesday. Nebraska will oppose South Florida in the third-place game.
George Mason (7-1) maintained a modest working margin for most of the second half against Nebraska (3-3), but the Cornhuskers were still close enough to pose a threat, down 71-63 with 6:06 remaining after a 3-pointer by Cam Mack.
Then George Mason clamped down on defense. The Patriots allowed just three points the rest of the way, busting open a competitive game in style.
GMU’s Javon Greene started the final 14-3 run over the final six minutes with a layup at the 5:42 mark. Jordan Miller was then fouled on a 3-point attempt with 5:05 left. He made all three foul shots to give the Patriots a 76-63 lead, and George Mason pulled away.
George Mason finished this game with smothering defense, but it built a working margin in this game with potent, balanced offense. Three players for the Patriots scored 17 or more points. Jamal Hartwell II led GMU with 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 5 of 10 on 3-pointers. Jordan Miller scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, adding eight rebounds. Greene scored 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting while contributing six rebounds and four steals.
Hartwell, Miller and Greene combined to make 22 of George Mason’s 32 field goals, just over two-thirds of the Patriots’ made shots. They also combined to hit nine of the team’s 11 made 3-pointers. Together, they scored 60 of George Mason’s 85 points. George Mason finished 11 of 25 (44 percent) from 3-point range, due to the Hartwell-Miller-Greene trio hitting 9 of 20 threes, a 45-percent clip.
George Mason’s shooting overcame 19 turnovers.
Four Nebraska players scored in double figures. Dachon Burke Jr. scored 14 points for the Huskers, Haanif Cheatham scored 13, Kevin Cross posted 11 points and Matej Kavas scored 10 for Nebraska, which finished 24 of 61 from the field (39.3 percent) and 10 of 30 on 3-pointers (33.3 percent).
—Field Level Media