John Powell, Asst. Sports Editor

On Saturday afternoon, the men’s basketball team (15-7, 10-1) topped the James Madison Dukes (10-12, 3-8) by a score of 70-68.

Mason’s 17 consecutive home wins against a conference opponent ties a school record that was set in 2001.

This win was the seventh straight for the Patriots. A few hours after the win, the Old Dominion Monarchs lost to the Northeastern Huskies, giving the Patriots sole possession of first place in the conference by a full game.

Junior guard Cam Long was on fire Friday, scoring 23 points in the contest. This was the sixth time this season that Long has scored at least 20 points in a contest.

No other Patriot scored double-digits in the game. Junior guard Isaiah Tate and senior forward Louis Birdsong both tallied nine points, and freshman forward Johnny Williams shot for a career-high eight points in the win.

The Patriots came into the game leading the Colonial Athletic Association in 3-point shooting at 40.1 percent.

Playing the Dukes, the Patriots could only manage a 23.5 mark. In shooting percentages, the Patriots fell to the Dukes in every category.

The Dukes shot 35.3 percent from the 3-point range. The Patriots could only manage 46.7 percent in 2-point shooting to the Dukes’ mark of 50 percent.

The Patriots only shot 62.5 percent in free throw shooting to the Dukes’ 72.7 percent, which included a 100 percent mark in the second half.

“I looked at the stat sheet…and we won? I am always amazed when the numbers don’t seem to add up. They don’t seem to make any sense,” said Head Coach Jim Larranaga.

Both teams traded runs in the first half; there were two tied scores and seven lead changes. Mason finally took a 27-25 lead with just over two minutes left in the first, a lead that the team would not forfeit for the rest of the game.

Long was the only Patriot who could find a way to score in the last 7:30 of the game, scoring 11 points in that span.

“Tonight, Cam Long stepped up like he’s been basically the whole conference race. He’s been sensational,” said Larranaga of Long’s higher level of play over the last few weeks.

The poor statistics caught up with the Patriots with 3:51 left in the first, as the lead shrunk from 12 points to four points on a run of Dukes’ drives and free throws.

Freshman forward Trevon Flores, standing at a height of six-foot-11-inches, made a 3-point shot with 52.1 seconds on the clock to shrink the lead to three points, making it a 69-66 game.

The Dukes finally got the ball back and, with 9.1 seconds left, Tate made a game-saving foul on Julius Wells’ shot from 3-point range.

“I was told they blew the whistle way before I even shot the ball, but I didn’t hear the whistle because it was so loud in there. I thought it was good,” said Wells of the play.

The shot was eventually good, but the referee called that there was no shot, sending Wells to the free throw line, where he made both shots, instead of making one and setting up for a the rebound and the put back.
“We didn’t talk about that at all; just make the free throw and give yourself the best shot,” said Wells on why he did not intentionally miss the second free throw.

The Patriots received the ball and put the game away on a Long free throw to make the game 70-68. Ben Louis heaved up a desperate shot from near midcourt, but it missed far left.

The Patriots won for the 17th consecutive time against a CAA opponent dating back two seasons ago when the team dropped a buzzer beater to the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks. Mason also accomplished the feat from 1999 through 2001.