John Powell, Asst. Sports Editor

Since the team’s run in the 2006 National Collegiate Athletic Association Final Four, the George Mason University men’s basketball team had not played an opponent ranked as high as the fifth-ranked Villanova Wildcats.

While many were expecting them to put up a relatively weak showing with a young team against a strong, experienced team in Villanova, the Patriots came to Puerto Rico and appeared to be in complete control of the game until the final seconds, losing on a 3-point shot with 15 seconds left in regulation.

Mason opened with a strong showing, maintaining ball control and time of possession throughout the first half. Showing his clock awareness, sophomore guard Andre Cornelius held the ball with great shot clock awareness, making shots as the clock ran out from the 2-point area to deep beyond the 3-point arch.

Consistency in free throw shooting also led to a controlling lead. Led by junior guard Cam Long, who made all of his six free throws, Mason went 27-of-37 at the line in the game.

Lack of ball control led to Villanova making runs in the second half. Mason’s aggressive game speed got the best of them as they played a bit out of control in the second half.

In addition, Long did not play most of the second half due to leg cramps, leaving the team without their star player.

Responsibility was not to fall on freshman forward Luke Hancock, who kept consistency in his arsenal, making electrifying offensive plays under the bucket to give Mason a fighting chance as they saw their lead diminish.

The out of control play seemed to bite both teams as the game went on with Villanova losing four players to foul-outs and Mason giving too many free throw opportunities to their opponent.

While not many Villanova players made the most out of this opportunity, Villanova junior guard Corey Fisher made 14 of his 18 free throws to keep Villanova within a possession or two of the lead.

In the final minute, Hancock made a free throw to give the Patriots a 67-63 lead, but Villanova freshman forward Isaiah Armwood came off the bench to make a 3-pointer. Combined with the 3-pointer from his teammate on the last possession, this gave Villanova a 69-68 lead.

On the following possession, with only 17 seconds remaining in the game, Mason called a timeout, but was unable to get a shot off in the remaining 13 seconds.

Sophomore forward Ryan Pearson, who entered the game as the team’s leading scorer, led Mason with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Mason contained Villanova’s top player, Scottie Reynolds, who committed a game-high eight turnovers.

Despite being in control for most of the game, Mason was unable to take advantage of the Wildcats having three of their starters foul out.

In the second game of the ESPN Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the Patriots lost to 19th-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 70-62. The Yellow Jackets were led by forwards Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors, who scored 18 points and blocked three shots apiece.

Freshman forward Kevin Foster led the Patriots with 15 points and nine rebounds in the game. Cornelius was the only other Mason player to record double-digit points with 11 in the game.

Long was ineffective in the second game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, shooting 2-of-10 from the field and committing six turnovers.

After amassing a 17-9 lead in the first half, the wheels began to come off the wagon as Mason could only make 35.8 percent of their shots to Georgia Tech’s 46.9 percent.

The Patriots did go on a late run however, making a 24-9 run late in the second half, but were still unable to overcome the Yellow Jackets, losing by eight.

The third and final game of ESPN’s Puerto Rico Tip-Off against the Indiana Hoosiers took place yesterday afternoon at 10:30 a.m.

Both teams entered the game winning their first two games and losing their last two. Guard Maurice Creek came into the game leading the Hoosiers with 16.5 points per game on 53.2 percent shooting from the field. He also averaged 2.5 3-pointers per game.

Mason topped the Hoosiers 69-66 after not allowing a hoosier field goal for almost three mintes after the game.