March 17, 2004
By JOSEPH WHITE
AP Sports Writer
FAIRFAX, Va. - George Mason won its first postseason game in 18 years Wednesday night, beating Tennessee 58-55 in the opening round of the NIT.
The victory gave George Mason (22-9) a school record for wins in a season, and the school won its first tournament game since a 65-63 victory over Lamar in the 1986 NIT. George Mason had since gone 0-3 in the NCAA tournament and 0-2 in the NIT.
Tony Skinn scored 16 points, and Terry Reynolds got George Mason's last eight points to finish with 15. Jai Lewis added 13 for the Patriots.
Brandon Crump scored 16 points to lead Tennessee (15-14). The Volunteers were hurt by 18 turnovers, but they had a chance to tie at the buzzer when Scooter McFadgon hit the rim with a 3-pointer from the left baseline.
Neither team led by more than eight in a tense game marred by 31 turnovers. The Patriots also missed eight free throws, hurting their chances to put the game away down the stretch.
Reynolds' 3-pointer with 5:36 remaining put George Mason ahead by eight, and his spin move in the lane with 4:27 left was the Patriots' last field goal. He added three free throws in the final 90 seconds, and the Volunteers weren't able to hit the big shots to tie or take the lead.
Lewis and Skinn were a combined 11-for-15 from the field. The rest of the
Patriots were 10-for-33.