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George Mason is at it again; Hancock's three beats Villanova

CLEVELAND -- George Mason's Mike Morrison held his favorite T-shirt with a you-gotta-believe slogan that his team might have another remarkable run in them to match 2006.

"We ARE this year's George Mason."

If the Patriots are going to duplicate that team's march to the Final Four -- wow! -- did they ever start with a shot to remember.

Luke Hancock hit a three-pointer with 21 seconds left, capping the Patriots' comeback and keeping the one-time NCAA Tournament darlings playing with a 61-57 win over Villanova on Friday.

Step aside, for now, that 2006 team. George Mason has another fantastic story to tell.

"We're trying to do our own thing," Hancock said. "Make our own name."

They waited until the final ticks to take a lead on Hancock's clutch shot. The Patriots (27-6) will play Ohio State on Sunday in the East region.

Hancock, his left shoulder taped and bandaged, showed no concern about any injury. He took a couple hard dribbles to his right, as if he was going to drive the lane for the go-ahead basket, then stopped right in his tracks. He crossed over and stepped back, then calmly knocked down the three-pointer from a foot beyond the arc on the right wing.

"I was kind of hoping and praying," Hancock said.

Corey Stokes' final shot for Villanova hit the top of the backboard and Morrison slammed home one final basket for the Patriots.

"This is our team here, two different years and two different teams," Morrison said. "We are trying to do what we have to do for ourselves."

This was the latest and last collapse for the Wildcats (21-12), who ended the season on a six-game losing streak. They were once ranked as high as No. 5 but failed to get out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.

Hancock scored 18 points, and Morrison had 10 points and 11 rebounds for George Mason, which won its opening tournament game for the first time since its Final Four run in 2006.

The eighth-seeded Patriots trailed by 10 in the first half only to inch their way back.

Isaiah Tate popped George Mason's first three of the second half with 1:57 left to make it 54-51, and the Wildcats crumbled from the free-throw line. Antonio Pena missed two and Mouphtaou Yarou clanked the front end of a one-and-one.

Morrison took advantage, dunking in a miss with 55 seconds left for George Mason's first lead since early in the game. After Corey Fisher drew a foul on a three-point attempt and made all of them for a 57-56 lead, Hancock followed with the biggest shot of his career.

The crowd filled to the rafters with Ohio State fans -- most of them surely recalling George Mason's sizzling run of a few years ago -- roared in approval.

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