ST. LOUIS — It was hard to tell the difference Saturday at Chaifetz Arena between the Atlantic 10 Conference’s best team and its worst.
George Mason equaled No. 19 Saint Louis for 40 minutes and nearly did so for 45 before the Billikens used a late 3-point barrage by center Rob Loe to escape with an 87-81 overtime decision and a school record-tying 14-game winning streak.
Loe sank a 3-pointer with 44.1 seconds left in regulation to force overtime at 68-68. He then nailed another 3 to start overtime and drilled his third 3 with two minutes remaining to give Saint Louis (20-2, 7-0) a 78-74 lead.
Loe finished with 23 points to lead five men in double figures. Guard Jordair Jett rebounded from a sluggish first 30 minutes to score 18, while guard Mike McCall Jr. contributed 15 points. Reserve guard Austin McBroom hit for 12 and forward Dwayne Evans managed 10 points.
Guard Bryon Allen poured in a game-high 30 points on 12 of 17 shooting for the Patriots (7-14, 0-7), which tied a school record with their eighth straight loss. Guard Patrick Holloway came off the bench to add 15 and center Erik Copes scored 10.
George Mason had two shots to win on its last possession, but guard Marquise Moore and forward Jalen Jenkins missed contested jumpers as the horn sounded.
The Patriots announced their presence early, blocking three shots by Evans in the first eight minutes. They also pounded the ball inside consistently, scoring 22 of their first 24 points in the paint.
A 3-pointer by McCall with 1:06 left in the first half allowed the Billikens to take a 27-26 lead into halftime despite shooting only 11 of 29 from the field and 3 of 13 on 3s.
George Mason opened up a 42-34 lead with 14:15 left in regulation when Holloway converted a runner in the lane. The Patriots maintained their advantage most of the second half with excellent offensive execution against an opponent allowing only 58 points per game.
Jenkins’ putback gave George Mason a 66-61 advantage with 4:15 remaining, but it only scored two points after that as Saint Louis finally tightened up defensively and stopped dribble penetration.
NOTES: This was the first time that George Mason and Saint Louis had met. The teams will play again on Feb. 19 in Fairfax, Va. … The Billikens are 7-0 on the road, tied with Wichita State for the best away mark in the country. They will test that record out next week when they travel to Philadelphia to play St. Joseph’s on Wednesday night and La Salle on Feb. 8. … Patriots G Patrick Holloway has hit 49.1 percent of his 3-pointers over his team’s last 11 games.
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