FAIRFAX, Va. - A late 3-point shot by Bryon Allen keyed George Mason's 63-59 victory over Virginia in the season opener for both teams on Friday.
George Mason's pressure rattled Virginia all night, but in the game's quieter moments, the Patriots made just 8 of 19 free throws.
With the game tied 57-57 and one minute remaining, Allen sank his crucial 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, triggering a frenzied final minute.
Cavaliers freshman Justin Anderson missed the front end of a one-and-one, while Johnny Williams hit one of two free throws for the Patriots.
Virginia's Taylor Barnette drove the length of the floor to make the score 61-59 with 2.8 seconds remaining, but Allen sank both foul shots on the other end to seal the victory.
The Patriots made half their shots from behind the 3-point line, but Virginia was better in the paint.
The difference was a tenacious Mason defense.
Sherrod Wright led the Patriots with 15 points, and Joe Harris had 19 for Virginia.
George Mason claimed a 28-25 halftime lead with the help of its fifth 3-pointer of the first 20 minutes, a long heave by Marko Gujanicic at the buzzer.
The other 3-pointers were part of well-executed plays, as Virginia's young defense struggled to match up on the perimeter.
The Cavaliers' stayed competitive with a 10-0 run in the middle of the first half, highlighted by a 3-pointer from freshman Evan Nolte.
Other than that, Virginia's production came primarily from inside the paint, where Darion Atkins and Akil Mitchell combined to go 5-for-8 in the first half.
The veterans had to bail out the freshmen after a 5-0 start by Mason in front of a raucous sellout crowd at the Patriot Center.
The Patriots kept the score low by denying Virginia second chances. They picked up 14 defensive rebounds in the first half.
Virginia coach Tony Bennett called time out only after a transition basket by George Mason on a defensive breakdown -- one of the coach's pet peeves.
Notes: This was Virginia's first opener on the road since a double-overtime loss at Richmond in 1997. The Cavaliers have not lost an opener in Charlottesville since. ... Both teams had players missing due to suspension. For the Patriots, Erik Copes and Vaughn Gray were beginning three-game suspensions, while the Cavaliers' Teven Jones served the final game of his three-game suspension, which included the team's two preseason scrimmages. ... Entering Friday night's game, Virginia had won all seven meetings against George Mason all-time. ... Patriots coach Paul Hewitt was 11-8 against Virginia as Georgia Tech's head coach. This was his first meeting with Virginia as Mason's coac