George Mason pulled away in the final minutes to hand the Cornell men’s basketball team its first loss of the 2023-24 season with a 90-83 victory on Wednesday evening at EagleBank Arena. The Big Red fell to 3-1 on the season, while the Patriots remained unbeaten in improving to 3-0.
Four Big Red players scored in double figures led by Guy Ragland Jr. with 16 points, four rebounds and four assists. Nazir Williams scored 13 points with six rebounds, Keller Boothby netted 12 and Sean Hansennotched 10 points and four boards in the loss. Cornell made 14-of-29 3-pointers on the night and outscored GMU’s bench 48-20.
Keyshawn Hall netted a game-high 29 points and added 12 rebounds and three assists, while Amari Kelly hit 8-of-11 shots for 17 points and seven rebounds. George Mason shot 50 percent from the floor and had distinct advantages in points off turnovers (22-13), in the paint (44-28) and second chance points (20-10).
George Mason led by three with just under two minutes to play after a pair of free throws by Hansen, but Darius Maddox hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to double the lead, then pushed the advantage to eight after a Big Red turnover.
George Mason led the entire second half after entering the break up just one. Five straight points over the first 90 seconds made it a two possession game. Cornell never regained the lead, though it cut the lead to 68-67 with 7:25 left on an Isaiah Gray bucket in the lane, then again at 74-73 on a Nazir Williams 3-pointer three minutes later.
George Mason led 43-42 at the break after Hall’s driving layup as time expired put the Patriots up. Hall scored 15 and added six rebounds in the first 20 minutes as the Patriots shot 50 percent overall and made 6-of-14 from beyond the arc. That was just shy of the Big Red’s 9-of-19 first half from beyond the arc, with Ragland hitting all three he attempted.
The first back-and-forth 20 minutes saw six ties and 17 lead changes in front of an energized crowd of 2,976 in a battle between two early season unbeatens. The loss snapped the Big Red’s 23-game win streak against non-conference opponents excluding ACC and Big Ten opponents.
• The Big Red will meet Cal State Fullerton on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 2:30 p.m. at Flagler Gymnasium in St. Augustine, Fla. in the opening game of the Jacksonville Classic.
• It will the first-ever meeting with the Titans.
• Depending on the result, Cornell will face either Southern Miss or Utah Valley on day two in the Bay Bracket with the consolation game at 11:30 a.m. and the championship at 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 20.
• The Big Red is 0-2 all-time against current members of the Big West (0-1 vs. Hawaii, Long Beach State).