NORFOLK, Va. (NSUSports.com) – Jalen Hawkins scored 12 points as part of a second half charge, including the go-ahead layup with 28.1 seconds left in the game, to lead the Norfolk State men’s basketball team to a 68-65 upset over George Mason on Saturday afternoon at EagleBank Arena.
Hawkins had 14 points for the game and hit a pair of key 3-pointers during NSU’s comeback from 14 points down. His fastbreak layup off a GMU miss put NSU ahead one last time, and the Patriots could not convert during their last few possessions. The Spartans outscored George Mason 11-2 to close out the very first meeting between the two programs.
NSU picked up its third win over a current Atlantic 10 team since moving to Division I after victories over Richmond in 2007-08 and Rhode Island in 2012-13. The Spartans improved to 4-3 on the year heading into MEAC play.
Hawkins was one of four Spartans in double figures. He scored all 12 of his second half points after NSU fell behind by 14, 53-39, with 12 minutes left in the game.
The Spartans began the comeback with a 16-6 run, making it 59-55 in favor of GMU. Hawkins’ pull-up 3-pointer from the right wing made it a four-point ballgame at the 6:42 mark. The Patriots (4-2), however, were still up by six with four minutes to go in the contest.
Hawkins connected on another 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down to begin that closing 11-2 run over the last three and a half minutes of the contest. Senior Mustafa Lawrence hit a layup high off the glass to get NSU to within one, and sophomore Nyzaiah Chambers’ layup with 2:24 to go put NSU ahead for the first time all half.
GMU got the lead back with 1:47 to go on a bucket from Xavier Johnson, but Hawkins’ layup off an assist from senior Devante Carter was later followed by two free throws from senior Kashaun Hicks. George Mason had two turnovers and four missed field goals in the last minute and a half, including a pair of misses from beyond the arc in the last few seconds. An offensive charge on the Patriots with 10.8 seconds left led to the two free throws from Hicks.
NSU led for the middle part of the first half before GMU got the lead back leading into the intermission. The Patriots were up 8-2 after six minutes of play to start the contest, but the Spartans countered with a 22-7 run to push ahead by nine, 24-15. The run lasted for more than six minutes and was highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers from Hicks and eight points from Lawrence.
After Hawkins made a short jumper in the lane at the 7:08 mark to close it out, however, GMU countered with a run of its own. The Patriots outscored the Spartans 15-3 over the last seven minutes of the half. Josh Oduro’s running layup with four seconds left put GMU ahead 30-27 at halftime.
Both teams made 37 percent in the first half, although the Patriots had 13 more field goal attempts.
GMU, meanwhile, built a seven-point lead early in the second period before Hicks nailed a corner 3-pointer. The Patriots then scored 10 in a row for a 14-point edge before the Spartans began their comeback.
Lawrence finished with 13 points, Carter added 12, and Hicks totaled 11 points for the Spartans, who shot 52 percent in the second half. NSU made 7-of-17 from 3-point range for the afternoon and was able to overcome 18 turnovers.
Tyler Kolek led all players with 19 points, which included five 3-pointers. Oduro was the only other player in double figures for the Patriots with 10 points and nine rebounds. George Mason shot 40 percent overall but was just 6-of-31 from beyond the arc. The Patriots held a 41-33 rebounding edge, including +8 on the offensive glass.
All four of NSU’s wins this year have come against in-state opponents. The Spartans defeated James Madison and Radford to start the year and also beat Hampton at home.
NSU begins MEAC play on Jan. 3 at home against Howard with a 4:30 tip off at Joseph Echols Hall.