Terence Ward had two chances to beat George Mason last night, and the second time should have been the charm.
But fate played a dirty trick on UMBC's junior point guard with 3.3 seconds left in overtime when he drove the baseline and put up a running three-footer that could have won the game at the Retriever Activities Center.
Ward's little floater rimmed the basket and was in the cylinder but rolled out. The ball hit Ward out of bounds with 2.5 seconds left to virtually wrap up a 63-62 George Mason overtime victory in a tight Conference Challenge duel.
George Mason (3-4) was able to kill the final 2.5 seconds by getting the ball inbounds to Erik Herring, who held the ball as time ran out.
"Terence is our best player and he got the shot we wanted in overtime, but it just wouldn't fall," said UMBC coach Tom Sullivan.
Ward didn't smile much as he talked to the media after the game because he felt he "messed up" his first opportunity to win the game in the final seconds of regulation play.
The score was tied at 56 with 26.3 seconds remaining in regulation when the Retrievers put the ball into Ward's hands for what was hoped to be a game-deciding play. But Ward became trapped on the left side of the court and had to call timeout with 2.4 seconds remaining.
That timeout forced 6-foot-7 junior UMBC forward Kennedy Okafor to rush a three-point buzzer-beater that rolled off the front of the rim and sent the game into overtime.
Ward took full blame for the costly breakdown in the final seconds of regulation.
"We had a play called," Ward said, "but I didn't recognize the defense and I took too much time to run the play. I was supposed to go isolation, and it never happened. They caught me out near the sideline."
The UMBC loss left the Northeast Conference's Retrievers (3-4) with a 1-1 mark in the weekend Conference Challenge. UMBC defeated America East representative Drexel on Friday before losing to George Mason, a member of the Colonial Athletic Association.
George Mason was led by 28-year-old junior center George Evans, who scored 15 points, had 13 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three steals. The 6-7, 220-pound Evans, who spent seven years in the Army, was named the most valuable player in the game.
Evans virtually took over in overtime last night for the Patriots.
He began the extra period with a big steal that he turned into a dunk for a 58-56 lead, came right back with a superb defensive play to stop UMBC and followed that play up with a block.
Evans wound up with four points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in overtime.
GEORGE MASON -- Anderson 3-9 0-0 7, Holdan 3-9 0-0 9, Evans 7-11 1-4 15, Herring 5-8 5-6 17, Price 0-7 0-2 0, Dorsett 4-7 0-0 11, Randall 0-0 0-1 0, Larranaga 1-4 2-2 4, Nixon 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 23-57 8-15 63.
UMBC -- B.Martin 3-4 4-7 10, Green 5-6 0-2 10, Okafor 4-11 2-2 10, Wilson 3-7 0-1 6, Ward 6-16 3-4 17, Washington 1-4 1-1 3, K.Martin 3-4 0-0 6. Totals 25-52 10-17 62.
Halftime--Tied 28-28. 3-point goals--GM 9-21 (Holdan 3-6, Dorsett 3-5, Herring 2-2, Anderson 1-4, Larranaga 0-2, Price 0-2). UMBC 2-8 (Ward 2-6, Okafor 0-1, Wilson 0-1). Rebounds--GM 32 (Evans 13); UMBC 39 (Okafor 13). Assists--GM 14 (Price 4); UMBC 13 (Wilson 6). Total fouls--GM 19; UMBC 18. A--734.