HONOLULU, Hawaii - Roberto Nelson recorded a game-high 17 points and Devon Collier added 15 of his own, leading Oregon State to victory over George Mason, 58-54, in the second round of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic on Monday at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Nelson found his groove late in the second half as he led the Beavers charge to reclaim the lead and hold on down the stretch. The senior was perfect from the line, cashing in on 10-of-10 attempts, six of which came with under a minute to go in the high-pressure game.
Collier was efficient for Oregon State (7-3) going 7-of-9 from the field and grabbing three boards for the Beavers.
Daniel Gomis saw his role increased, making his first career start in the place of the injured Angus Brandt, and he responded with his best game in a Beaver uniform. The Senegal native hustled all over the floor, posting five points and career highs with eight rebounds, five blocked shots, two steals and 33 minutes.
“This was a tough game for us," Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson said. "At the beginning we followed our game plan a little bit and got a little bit of a lead and then we 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 that won that game than our first team.”
The Beavers and Patriots were tied 10 times throughout the morning with four lead changes. Oregon State took advantage of a 19-6 turnover differential and outscored George Mason (5-6) 28-18 in the paint in the highly physical battle, which helped lead the Beavers to victory.
For the second consecutive game, eight players contributed to the scoring column in the first half, showing an unselfish and balanced Oregon State attack.
Gomis held his own block party in the opening frame, swatting three of the Patriots' shot attempts. Offensively, Collier led the Beavers in the first half, converting on 4-of-5 shot attempts to tall eight points.
Bryon Allen led George Mason with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Patrick Holloway also played well for the Patriots, hitting 4-of-7 shots from downtown to finish with 12 points.
The Beavers came out strong in the first stanza, working their way to a 9-0 run and an 18-9 lead with 10:15 left after Hallice Cooke converted on a jumper.
Late in the opening frame, George Mason narrowed the Oregon State lead to 22-19, but Nelson found Collier in transition and the big man was able to convert on the lay in and draw contact inside.
The Patriots closed the first half on an 18-8 run, giving them a 29-28 lead going into the intermission.
Nelson drilled a deep three-ball at the 18:13 mark in the second half to tie the game at 31. George Mason answered on the other end, but Nelson took to the hoop again and drew contact, converting on both free throws, tying the game, 33-33.
With 11:43 remaining, the Beavers trailed 39-37, but Oregon State was able to tie it up at 40, after Malcolm Duvivier hit a crucial three-pointer at the 9:35 mark. On the next offensive possession, Collier hit a free throw to give the Beavers a 41-40 lead with 8:54 left to play in the game.
Langston Morris-Walker brought Oregon State within two, 48-46, after hitting two big free throws with 3:21 remaining in the final half. Soon after, Gomis followed a missed jumper and converted on a put back, tying the game at 48.
Nelson found Collier down low to give the Beavers a 50-49 lead with just 1:56 remaining in the game. After forcing a missed three from George Mason, Oregon State marched down the floor and Nelson cashed in on a long jumper with just 43 seconds left on the clock.
The Patriots answered by getting to the line, converting on both shots to bring the score to 52-51. Nelson received the inbound pass and was instantly fouled and sent to the line. He hit both shots, giving Oregon State a 54-51 lead. On the defensive end, the Beavers were able to get a huge stop, and Nelson grabbed the rebound and was sent to the line to seal up the victory.
The Beavers are set to face off in their final game of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic on Christmas Day for fifth place against either Saint Mary's or Hawaii, at 10:30 a.m. or 1 p.m. PT, in a game televised nationally on ESPNU. Those teams were set to play late Monday night.