Jerry Holy, Broadside Correspondent

In an exciting atmosphere at the Patriot Center, the men’s basketball team put on a show as they downed the Virginia State Trojans 100-82 in the exhibition game last Thursday. Mason controlled the game from the very beginning with a 3-point jumper from junior guard Cam Long.

Sophomore guard Andre Cornelius led the team with 22 points and sophomore forward Ryan Pearson added 12 points with a 3-point jumper at the end of the first half.

Senior forward Louis Birdsong and Long had 10 points apiece. Sophomore forward Mike Morrison had nine points and two blocks.

The bench players also contributed to the team’s impressive victory. Rising freshman forward Kevin Foster added seven points, one block and a steal.

Junior guard Isaiah Tate showed he could step up as a leader on the floor, scoring six points in the game.

Among the freshmen, forward Luke Hancock had a strong debut on both sides of the floor. Hancock led the team with four steals and eight assists.

Hancock also added seven points from the bench as did freshman guard Sherrod Wright.

“[Hancock] played good for his first game as a Patriot,” said sophomore guard Jimmy Nolan on the freshman forward from Roanoke, Va.

“Hancock played [as] well on defense as he did on offense,” said Long.

“[Cornelius] played great on offense, taking his time and being patient with his shooting,” Nolan said. “Andre was also great on [putting defensive] pressure on the opposing team.”

With the six freshmen players on the 2009-10 men’s basketball squad, they were able to show that they could step up to the challenge.

“I was really surprised by the freshmen players. They were calm and ready to play,” said Long.

“The freshmen players played well while under pressure for their first game,” said Birdsong.

Mason led the Trojans at the end of the first half, 48-36. In the second half, Mason showed that the potential in this year’s squad will be a force to be reckoned with as they put up 52 points in the second half.

“In my first three years playing with Mason, we have made it to the conference championships, and I would like to keep the tradition up with this season,” said Birdsong. “We can play well against any team once we are all on the same page.”

Mason will play against last year’s Final Four participant, the Villanova Wildcats, in the opening round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament on Nov. 19.

“A run like the one we had in 2006 is possible as long as we believe in ourselves,” said Nolan.

The men are back in action Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. as they host the Liberty Flames as a part of the season-opening doubleheader with the women’s basketball team taking on the Norfolk State Spartans at 5 p.m.