Baraka Okojie leads George Mason past DaRon Holmes II and No. 16 Dayton, 71-67

Wed, Feb 21, 2024

Baraka Okojie leads George Mason past DaRon Holmes II and No. 16 Dayton, 71-67

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) - Baraka Okojie scored all of his career-high 19 points in the second half, and George Mason rallied past No. 16 Dayton 71-67 on Wednesday night for the first home victory over a ranked foe in program history.

Keyshawn Hall added 17 points for the Patriots (18-8, 7-6 Atlantic 10), who trailed 40-29 early in the second half before their physical defense keyed a 24-2 run that had coach Tony Skinn asking the boisterous home crowd to get even louder.

George Mason won its third straight and improved to 13-2 at home this season, and this victory ended with the Patriots' student section pouring onto the court to celebrate.

DaRon Holmes II scored 26 points for Dayton (21-5, 11-3), but the Flyers struggled at times getting the ball to their 6-foot-10 national player of the year candidate. George Mason forced four shot-clock violations, converted 10 Dayton turnovers into 16 points and shot 70.6% from the field after halftime while holding Dayton to 35.7% in the second half.

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The Flyers fell one-half game behind first-place Loyola Chicago in the A-10 standings.

Dayton followed George Mason's big run with an 11-0 burst of their own to tie the game at 53-all, and Javon Bennett converted a steal into a 3-pointer that gave Dayton its last lead, 56-55 with 5:56 remaining.

Okojie responded with driving layups on consecutive possessions to put George Mason back ahead by three, and the Patriots held on from there. Holmes had a chance to tie it with 34 seconds left but his hook shot rimmed out. Okojie made two free throws with 14 seconds left for the final margin.

Ronald Polite III added 13 points and Amari Kelly scored 12 on 5-of-5 shooting for the Patriots. The Flyers made 11 3s, but Holmes was their only double-figure scorer.


Dayton: Seventh-year coach Anthony Grant has his best team since the Obi Toppin-led Flyers went 29-2 and finished third in the AP poll in the pandemic-halted 2019-20 season.

George Mason: Skinn, the first-year coach who was the second-leading scorer for George Mason's 2006 Final Four team, beat a ranked opponent for the first time in his career. The Patriots hosted a ranked foe for the first time since then-No. 4 Dayton won 62-55 on Feb. 25, 2020.


Dayton: Hosts Davidson on Tuesday night.

George Mason: At Loyola Chicago on Saturday.


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