GEORGETOWN, Grand Cayman — George Mason made seven 3-pointers in the second half and shot Nebraska out of the winners bracket of the Cayman Islands Classic, beating the Huskers 85-66 on Tuesday.
Jamal Hartwell scored 23 for the Patriots, making 5 of 10 from deep. Nebraska struggled to find a consistent scorer, getting 14 from Dachon Burke, 13 from Haanif Cheatham, 11 from Kevin Cross and 10 from Matej Kavas. Burke scored all but two of his points in the first five minutes of the game.
After falling behind by 15 in the second half, Nebraska pulled within six at 57-51. But Thorir Thorbjarnarson missed a free throw and George Mason pulled away on a 28-15 run to finish the game.
“We had an opportunity to see how we’d respond after a really good win last night, and we didn’t respond well,” coach Fred Hoiberg told the Husker Sports Network.
George Mason made 49% of its shots and sank 11 3-pointers, which counteracted 19 turnovers.
Nebraska was 10 of 30 from 3-point range and turned the ball over 15 times, but NU was outrebounded for the sixth straight game, this time 49-26. George Mason collected 15 offensive rebounds that turned into 17 second-chance points.
“We gotta find a way to make contact and hit, make first contact so we can get it off the glass,” Hoiberg said. “When we do that, we’re a really good team. When we don’t, we’re very average.”
The loss means NU will play in the third-place game against South Florida at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Games are streamed exclusively on FloHoops.com.
Burke played the savior early, making four of his first five shots and scoring Nebraska’s opening 12 points. After an NBA 3-pointer from Burke and a steal and score from Kavas, NU had tied it at 14-all.
After NU briefly led at 16-14, George Mason rattled off 10 straight points behind Hartwell and Javon Greene. NU’s guards could not keep up with the speedsters and the Huskers fell behind 37-28 by halftime.
The Patriots came out and extended the lead to 15 after two Jordan Miller 3-pointers. Five points from Cross and a Cheatham 3-pointer cut that to six with 15 minutes left.
Cross matched haymakers with Hartwell for about five minutes. Hartwell hit two 3s in Burke’s face on back-to-back possessions to push the lead to 11 points, but Cross countered with this third 3-pointer of the half. He scored all 11 of his points in the second half.
A score by Thorbjarnarson cut the deficit to six at 57-51 with 11 minutes left.
George Mason hit two 3s in a row, and pulled away.
The Patriots, now 7-1 on the season, shot above 60% in the second half, earning a salute from Hoiberg. Nebraska couldn’t dig deeply enough to find a way to get a stop to slow the bleeding, and didn’t follow the game plan.
“Closing out to their shooters when they got hot, and letting the guys that are left-handed drive left, and again that’s what we talk about, in a short prep like this when you don’t have a chance to get in the gym and go through their stuff, we went over it in a parking lot today outside the hotel,” Hoiberg said. “Gotta find a way to carry that over onto the floor.”
Nebraska is now 3-3 on the season, as is South Florida. The Bulls beat Loyola-Chicago in the opening round 66-55, but lost to New Mexico State by 20.
“We get an opportunity to see how we respond after a tough loss,” Hoiberg said. “We’re going to have to come out with great energy.”
George Mason... 37 48—85
At Nebraska...... 28 38—66