FAIRFAX, Va. - Bryon Allen wasn't trying to make the game's decisive shot. He just wanted to avoid a turnover.
Instead, Allen's 3-point heave swished as the shot clock expired, keying George Mason's 63-59 victory over Virginia in the season opener for both teams on Friday.
"I didn't have a good look at all," Allen said. "Honestly, I was just trying to get it up on the boards so the bigs could go get it."
His shot with 1:02 left gave George Mason a three-point lead and triggered a frenzied final minute. Cavaliers freshman Justin Anderson missed the front end of a one-and-one, then Johnny Williams hit one of two free throws for the Patriots to give them a four-point lead.
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.
Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett cited his team's 12 turnovers as being a difference maker.
"I thought we had a little stretch where we ran some good offense, then we had some costly turnovers," he said. "When you're in a game that close, a possession by possession game, I don't know if our young guys understand a value of a possession."
Sherrod Wright led the Patriots with 15 points, and Joe Harris had 19 for Virginia. Harris hit four 3-pointers in the second half, but the Cavaliers' 38 percent shooting from behind the arc paled next to Mason's 50 percent.
George Mason's pressure rattled Virginia all night, as the Cavaliers gave four freshmen playing time. Mason countered with a more experienced unit in front of a sellout crowd that got loud in the game's final minutes.
"Playing in a hostile environment against a good team, it's good for all of us, especially the freshmen," Harris said. "We learned a lot about the team."
The Patriots had two crucial -- and lucky -- 3-pointers: Allen's at the end of the game, and a long heave by Marko Gujanicic at the halftime buzzer that gave George Mason a 28-25 lead.
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 Virginia veterans had to bail out the freshmen after a 5-0 start by Mason.
The Patriots kept the score low by denying Virginia second chances. They picked up 14 defensive rebounds in the first half.
Bennett called time out only after a transition basket by George Mason on a defensive breakdown -- one of the coach's pet peeves.
George Mason coach Paul Hewitt was pleased at the production his team was able to generate against the defensive-minded coach.
"To shoot 54 percent against one of Tony's teams, that's a great performance by our guys," Hewitt said.
He had no interest in discussing how the victory might play in March, though, saying it was premature for NCAA Tournament talk.
"It's way early for that," Hewitt said. "We've got to go play Bucknell, which beat Purdue tonight on the road. That's what's on my mind."
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 coach.