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Hancock, Patriots send skidding Wildcats home

Mar 18, 2011 - 11:43 PM Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - Luke Hancock made a three-pointer with 19.8 seconds remaining, as the George Mason Patriots used a late surge to take down the Villanova Wildcats, 61-57, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Hancock ended with 18 points and five assists for the Patriots (27-6), who are remembered for their historic trip to the Final Four in 2006. George Mason beat Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and Connecticut in the tourney that season.

Mike Morrison added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Patriots. Isaiah Tate also donated 10 points.

George Mason, the No. 8 seed in the East Region, will next take on top-seeded Ohio State on Sunday.

Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes finished with 20 and 14 points, respectively, for the Wildcats (21-12), who lost six in a row to end a disappointing season.

Ninth-seeded Villanova was making its seventh straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and 32nd overall.

"I think from the halfway point of the first half and through the second half they got really physical with our guards," Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. "They just really rode our guards off any ball screens. And early in the game they didn't."

Trailing by six, 54-48, with 3 1/2 minutes, the Patriots closed out the game on a 13-3 run to claim victory.

Tate made a three-pointer to get George Mason going. Antonio Pena missed two big free throws at the other end, and Ryan Pearson tied the game with a three- point play.

Mouphtaou Yarou missed another free throw for the Wildcats. Morrison then put the Patriots ahead with a putback slam off Pearson's missed jumper.

Tate committed a costly foul when he got a piece of Fisher's three-point attempt from the corner. Fisher made all three foul shots to give Villanova a 57-56 edge with 31.7 seconds to play.

Hancock responded at the other end with a three-pointer to give George Mason a 59-57 margin with 19.8 ticks remaining.

"No, I'm not the first option to shoot a 3," Hancock said. "Mike (Morrison) and Ryan (Pearson) were coming up to set a double screen, and I was going to go off of that and look for Cam (Long) in the corner. I kind of set my man up and he went back a little farther than I thought, and just kind of shot it."

Maalik Wayns then drove to the hoop and made heavy contact with Pearson. Wayns missed the layup as the whistles stayed quiet. A scramble for the rebound led to a jump ball, and the possession arrow pointed to the Wildcats. But Stokes missed a jumper.

Pearson grabbed the defensive rebound and Morrison capped the burst with an emphatic slam with 0.3 seconds left.

Fisher and Stokes carried Villanova in the first half, combining for 24 of the team's 35 points. Stokes made a three-pointer and two free throws with under nine minutes left to give the Wildcats a 23-15 lead.

Maurice Sutton's free throw with 4 1/2 minutes to go extended Villanova's margin to 31-21.

But George Mason responded with an 8-2 flurry to prevent the Wildcats from pulling away. Tate's free throw with 25 seconds remaining cut the gap to 33-29, but Pena's jumper before the break gave Villanova a six-point lead.

Game Notes

The Wildcats suffered their first loss in five meetings with George Mason...Villanova fell to 49-32 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. Last season, the Wildcats defeated Robert Morris 73-70 in the first round before falling to St. Mary's 75-68 in the second round...Villanova fell to 4-1 in NCAA Tournament play in the state of Ohio...George Mason Patriots won the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title before falling to VCU in the league tournament...The Patriots improved to 5-5 in NCAA Tournament play, including a 68-50 loss to No. 5-seed Notre Dame in 2008, their most recent tournament action...The No. 8 seed that George Mason earned is the highest in school history...The Wildcats went 7-of-22 from three-point range...The Patriots went 15-of-24 from the foul line, while Villanova went 12-of-17 from the charity stripe...Yarou had six points and 13 rebounds for the Wildcats, who shot 36.5 percent from the field.