Sports Outside the Beltway

George Mason Makes Final Four

The biggest Cinderella story since at Villanova’s stunning 1985 championship run is on, with #11 seed George Mason continuing its improbable march through the NCAA tournament with an overtime victory over top seeded UConn. Ironically, its semi-final opponent could be Villanova, whose game with Florida just tipped off.

H. Darr Beiser of USA Today provides a quick game summary:

The George Mason Patriots danced their way into the Final Four on Sunday with a stunning 86-84 overtime victory over top-seeded Connecticut at the Verizon Center in Washington. With the win, George Mason became the highest seeded team to reach the national semifinals since 11th-seeded LSU reached the Final Four in 1986. But as has been the case with the Huskies all tournament, they simply wouldn’t go away when the game seemed all but over.

George Mason held a 74-70 lead late when the Huskies’ Marcus Williams hit a jumper with seven seconds left to cut the deficit to two. Rudy Gay then committed a quick foul on the Patriots’ Tony Skinn with six ticks left on the clock. After Skinn missed the front end of the one-and-one, Williams swiftly drove to halfcourt and passed to Denham Brown on the wing. Brown drove baseline and made an acrobatic reverse layup that bounced on the rim three times before finally falling through the net after the buzzer sounded to send the game into the extra frame.

In overtime, the Patriots calmly nabbed a quick lead after Will Thomas hit a jumper with 4:13 left. The teams traded baskets for the next two minutes until Thomas hit another jumper with 2:11 remaining that put the Patriots up 82-78, a lead they would not relinquish a second time.

Jai Lewis led the way with 21 points and Lamar Butler and Will Thomas added 19 apiece. But the win didn’t come without a complete team effort. All five Patriots starters finished the game in double figures as Skinn pitched in 10 and Folarin Campbell added 15.

MSNBC piles on,

Now this is madness.

George Mason stunned No. 1 Connecticut 86-84 in overtime at the Washington D.C. Regional final on Sunday, as the No. 11 seed became one of the most surprising stories in NCAA Tournament history.

Connecticut was regarded as one of the tournament favorites due in part to their coach, Jim Calhoun, who has won two NCAA titles, and their roster of NBA-caliber players, led by probable draft picks Rudy Gay, Marcus Williams, Hilton Armstrong and Josh Boone.

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