HONOLULU — Quiet for most of the game, Roberto Nelson delivered in the game’s final minute to help Oregon State win.
Nelson scored eight of his 17 points in the game’s final 43 seconds as Oregon State beat George Mason 58-54 in Monday’s consolation round game of the Diamond Head Classic.
Devon Collier added 15 points for Oregon State (7-3).
Bryon Allen had 15 points and Patrick Holloway hit four 3-pointers to finish with 12 points for George Mason (5-6).
In a close second half where Oregon State relied on its bench, it was Nelson, a starter, who helped deliver the win. Nelson was 6 of 6 from the free-throw line in the game’s final 29 seconds and converted all 10 of his attempts in the game.
“Not only the free throws, but the assists he made to get us to the lead,” Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said. “Everybody is keying on those two guys (Nelson, Collier) and they have to understand that, so they may have a few games where they score 12 points, but if they can handle the floor game, that’s going to help us win. Him making those foul shots, getting those assists to Devon, one to Daniel Gomis, I think that sort of saved us.”
Collier’s go-ahead layup, off an assist from Nelson, gave Oregon State a 50-49 lead with 1:56 left. George Mason’s Marko Gujanicic missed a 3-point attempt on the next possession and Nelson hit a jumper as the shot clock expired to extend the lead to 52-49 with 43 seconds remaining.
Allen made two free throws with 31 seconds left to cut the deficit to 52-51. Nelson then made two free throws to extend the lead to 54-51 with 29 seconds. George Mason couldn’t convert on its next possession and Nelson made four more free throws to seal the win.
“It was a tough game for us,” Robinson said. “I thought that at the beginning we followed our game plan a little bit, took a lead, then went away from it and didn’t get back to it until the second half of the second half. But that was a gutsy win once again buoyed by our second-team guys. It was more of our second team than it was our first team.”
In a close second half, the Beavers’ defense led to opportunities on offense.
“It was really important, especially because (it) generated those turnovers in our man-to-man (defense),” Robinson said. “Usually we do it in our 1-3-1 (zone).”
The Beavers led by nine midway through the first half but the Patriots rallied to tie it twice in the final two minutes of the half. Holloway’s 3-pointer gave the Patriots, who had 10 first-half turnovers, a 29-28 lead at halftime.
“(Turnovers) were critical in the start, it’s what put us in the hole to begin and we had a couple down the stretch at the end, but I think it’s more of the ones that happened early in the game,” said George Mason coach Paul Hewitt. “They had a pretty sizable advantage on points off turnovers in the first half.”
The Beavers played without senior starting center Angus Brandt, who suffered a leg injury in Sunday’s loss to Akron. Brandt is averaging 12 points per game and is the team’s third-leading scorer.
Also on Monday:
No. 1 Arizona 77, Northern Arizona 44: TUCSON, Ariz. — Nick Johnson scored 20 points, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 14 and Arizona rolled over Northern Arizona to complete its second straight undefeated nonconference season.
No. 14 Iowa State 83, Akron 60: HONOLULU — Georges Niang scored 22 points, and Iowa State beat Akron to match the best start in school history. Melvin Ejim had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Cyclones, who improved to 10-0. DeAndre Kane added 15 points and 11 boards.