Lincoln – Dachon Burke Jr. had 14 points to pace four Huskers in double figures, but Nebraska was unable to slow down George Mason in the second half as the Huskers fell 85-66 In the semifinals of the Cayman Islands Classic Tuesday evening.
George Mason (7-1) shot 60 percent in the second half, including 7-of-12 from 3-point range, to pull away from the Huskers down the stretch.
With the win, George Mason advanced to Wednesday’s title game against New Mexico State, while the Huskers (3-3) saw their three-game win streak snapped and will play in the third-place game against South Florida on Wednesday at 4 p.m. (CT).
The combo of Jamal Hartwell II and Jordan Miller combined for 43 points for the winners, as GMU shot 49 percent from the field, including 11-of-25 from 3-point range.
Haanif Cheatham had 13 points, while Kevin Cross (11 points) and Matej Kavas (10 points) came off the bench to give Nebraska a pair of double-figure scorers in the setback.
The Huskers trailed 45-30 early in the second half before Cheatham and Cross led the Huskers on a comeback. NU went on an 11-2 run to get within 47-41 after Cheatham’s 3-pointer with 15:01 left.
Nebraska continued to battle and was within 57=51 with 11:15 left after a Thorir Thorbjarnarson basket with 11;15 remaining, but could not complete the 3-point play to get Nebraska within five. George Mason responded with 3-pointers from Hartwell and Gonar Mar to quickly stretch the lead back to 12 with 10:27 remaining.
The Huskers made one last run and was within 71-63 after Cam Mack’s 3-pointer with just over six minutes remaining, but the Patriots put the game out of reach with seven unanswered points, taking a 79-63 lead after Javon Green’s 3-pointer with 4:37 left, and NU was unable to pull within 15 the remainder of the contest.
In the first half, Nebraska shot just 32 percent from the floor and were out-rebounded 29-12, as George Mason took a 37-28 lead into the break.
Burke and Kavas combined for 19 of the Huskers’ first-half points, while Jamal Hartwell II and Jaron Greene had 10 apiece for George Mason in the opening stanza.
Burke single-handedly kept the Huskers in the game early after falling behind by seven in the first six minutes of the contest. The junior had Nebraska’s first-12 points, including five straight as part of a 9-0 spurt that saw the Huskers take a 16-14 lead after a Jervay Green basket with 10:44 left in the half.
The Huskers’ lead would be short-lived, as the Patriots ran off 10 straight points of their own with five points coming from Jamal Hartwell II to push the advantage to 24-15 at the under-8 timeout.
The Huskers, who got 10 points from the bench in the first half, cut into the lead and pulled within four on two occasions, the last being at 30-26 after a Samari Curtis 3-pointer with 5:27 left in the half, but were outscored 7-2 over the last five minutes as the Patriots stretched the lead back to nine at the break
Nebraska will face South Florida, a 65-45 loser to New Mexico State, in the third-place game. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. (CT) and will be carried on the IMG-Learfield Husker Sports Network, Huskers.com and the Huskers app. Live video will be available on FloHoops.com, a subscription is required.