Brian T. Chan, Sports Editor

The men’s basketball team fell for the first time in nearly a month, losing in a 61-57 decision to the Georgia State Panthers last Wednesday. Mason (15-8, 10-2), winners of seven straight, had its road winning streak end at three games, while the Panthers (10-14, 4-8) evened up the season series.

Sophomore forward Ryan Pearson led the Patriots with 13 points and eight rebounds, and freshman forward Luke Hancock added 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. But the team could not contain Panthers’ reserve player Jihad Ali, who scored a game-high 22 points to surpass his previous high of 12 points. Ali hit the eventual game-winner, a 3-pointer with 42 seconds left to give the Panthers a 58-57 lead.

Mason was in control in the first half, leading by as much as seven points. Junior guard Isaiah Tate nailed two 3-pointers leading to his eight first-half points. The Patriots went into the half with a 27-22 lead, but both offenses had a sluggish start in the first 20 minutes.

The Panthers shot just 29.6 percent from the field but Mason was not any better, shooting 34.5 percent.

In the second half, the Panthers clawed back from a five-point deficit to take a 39-36 lead at the 12-minute mark. From there, both teams traded baskets with neither team leading by more than four points.

But with less than three minutes left, sophomore forward Mike
Morrison scored a layup to give Mason a 57-53 lead. After two free throws from Panthers’ Joe Dukes cut the lead in half, Ali sank a 3-pointer from the corner, Ousman Krubally extended the Panthers’ lead with two free throws, and Dukes put the game away with a free throw in the closing seconds.

The loss drops Mason into a three-way tie with the Old Dominion Monarchs and Northeastern Huskies in the Colonial Athletic Association standings. The Patriots pulled to .500 on the road after winning the previous three games.

Last January, the Patriots held off the Panthers’ bid for an upset at the Patriot Center. This time around, Mason was unable to escape a crucial road game, especially when its leading scorer was held in check. Coming off of several 20-point games, junior guard Cam Long missed eight of his nine shots and scored just two points. Both teams shot for over 50 percent in the second half, but in the end, the Panthers had the advantage in going to the line more.

The Patriots traveled to Philadelphia to take on the Drexel Dragons last Saturday.

Last week, the Patriots hosted the VCU Rams in a highly anticipated match between the two rivals, and on Saturday, Mason looked to reclaim its lead in the conference as the team battles the Monarchs in Norfolk.