FAIRFAX, Va. — A stomp on the back helped fuel a comeback Wednesday night for USF, which overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to beat George Mason 68-66.
Corey Allen hit a shot from the right baseline with 2.4 seconds left for the winner as USF (5-2) improved to 2-0 on the road.
"I just attacked (the basket), then I shot a floater," said Allen, a 6-foot-1 guard who took advantage of a screen as he went inside against the Patriots frontcourt. "I love those moments when I have a big switch."
The comeback got its start when George Mason's Anali Okoloji, a 6-foot-8 forward was called for a technical when he stepped on the back, intentionally according to the referees, of 6-1 point guard Anthony Collins with 8:55 left.
Collins hit four free throws, two for the foul and two for the technical, to pull the Bulls within 53-45 after they had trailed 53-36 with 12:19 left.
USF coach Stan Heath credited his veterans for keeping cool as Collins, who missed the first two games of the season with a knee injury, lay on the floor after he was fouled. "Some of the older guys made sure nothing else happened," Heath said.
Moments later Allen, who had 19 points, stole the ball and scored to give USF a 54-53 lead to cap an 18-0 run.
"It was real big," USF's Victor Rudd (15 points, eight rebounds) said of the technical. "It changed the game. It brought out the fight in us."
Said Allen: "It looked like (Okoloji) kind of stomped on (Collins). That fired us up. That was the turning point of the game."
In his second career start, USF freshman forward/center Chris Perry had 14 points and a season-best 11 rebounds. He logged a lot of minutes down the stretch in place of John Egbunu, who came up limping with 13:10 left in the game but later returned. Collins had five assists and seven points for the Bulls, who made 27 of 37 free throws.
Martino Brock, who had 16 points Saturday against Detroit, came off the bench for the first time this season and had three points. Heath said Brock didn't do anything wrong to lose his starting spot, but the coach wanted to take advantage of Collins' decisionmaking and use a bigger lineup to help shore up rebounding woes.
Sherrod Wright had 22 points for George Mason (5-3). "We knew he was the key. Our guys really tightened things up on defense" down the stretch, Heath said.