Creighton 58, George Mason 56
OMAHA, Neb. (AP)—Dane Watts made the winning free throws with 7.5 seconds left and Creighton survived three costly turnovers in the last two minutes to defeat George Mason 58-56 on Saturday.
Watts, who struggled with his shot the first two games, hit three 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 19 points. Anthony Tolliver added 12 points and eight rebounds.
The Bluejays (2-1), playing a Final Four team from the previous season for the first time since 1987, needed Watts’ performance on a day star guard Nate Funk lost his shooting touch.
Funk, who had seven 3-pointers and 28 points against Nebraska on Nov. 18, missed his first six shots and didn’t score until he opened the second half with a jump shot from the free-throw line. He finished 2-for-9 for four points.
Creighton, which nursed 4- to 7-point leads for much of the second half, committed three straight turnovers trying to inbound the ball after George Mason baskets. The Patriots (2-2) converted each to tie it 56-all with 48 seconds left.
Will Thomas beat Tolliver one-on-one along the baseline for the tying basket after Tolliver couldn’t handle Watts’ inbounds pass.
Watts was fouled by John Vaughan after taking a pass from Josh Dotzler underneath the basket. After he made the free throws, Folarian Campbell drove the length of the court and missed a baseline shot just before the buzzer.
Vaughan led George Mason with 22 points, Campbell had 17 and Will Thomas 13.
The Bluejays took the lead in the middle of the second half on a Nick Bahe layin that made it 15-13.
The Patriots made runs at the Bluejays but were held off each time until the late going.
Thomas’ three-point play and Campbell’s jumper pulled the Patriots to 34-31, but Isacc Miles’ 3 from the wing gave the Bluejays’ a 7-point cushion.
George Mason got within two, 40-38, on Vaughan’s jumper, but Watts’ third 3-pointer and two free throws made it 45-38.
A Vaughan jumper and 3-pointer got the Patriots to 52-47, but Tolliver’s dunk made it a 7-point game again with 3:32 left.
Creighton beat George Mason 72-52 on the road last year. The Bluejays are 4-12 all-time against teams that reached the Final Four the previous season.
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