by Stephen Kline

The stage was set for another incredible CAA matchup on Saturday afternoon.


The Patriot Center was filled to the brim as former and future Mason basketball players, students and fans piled into the arena for the finale for Homecoming: Where Magic Happens. Junior walk-on Jordan Baird nailed the National Anthem, igniting the crowd of 9.840 before the game began.

Doc Nix and the Green Machine controlled the crowd throughout, prompting the Patriot Center noise meters to hover between 95 and 105 for a majority of the night.

It was another matchup of No. 1 against No. 1 – the Patriots against the Monarchs. It was another matchup of Kent Bazemore, Preseason CAA Player of the Year, and Ryan Pearson, the likely favorite for Postseason Player of the Year honors.

And, for the second time this season, Pearson got the edge.

“That’s the role of a leader,” Bazemore said of Pearson. “You’re not going to have your best night every night but, if your teammates believe in you enough, you can still be that force. That’s what good players do in this league.”

Despite his inability to knock down jumpshots, Pearson willed his way to another double-double performance. He finished the night 3-for-11 from the floor but managed 17 points and 10 rebounds due in large part to his 11-for-13 effort from the charity stripe.

by Stephen Kline

Fellow Christ the King alum Corey Edwards gave an outstanding effort in the second half. Edwards finished with just five points but made an impact on both ends, knocking down the Patriots’ lone 3-pointer of the game off the glass.

“When I shot it, it felt kind funny,” Edwards laughed. “I knew it was either off the backboard or it was going to be an airball. Thank God it went in.”

Mike Morrison and Erik Copes provided Mason with another steady effort, combining for 15 points and 13 rebounds to help slow the Monarchs’ Chris Cooper. Sherrod Wright continued his strong play since being moved to the bench last month, playing a pivotal role in holding Bazemore to just 11 points in his 35 minutes of playing time.

“The one thing we can do [on Bazemore] is rotate some fresh bodies on him,” Coach Paul Hewitt said. “Vertrail [Vaughns] and Sherrod, they’re pretty athletic and pretty active. That helps us to keep a guy like that to 3-for-12.”

Despite the victory, the Patriots continued their poor shooting and only managed 13 total field goals against an active Old Dominion defense. Mason shot just 27.7 percent from the field but won the game on the free throw line, knocking down 27 of 35 attempts.

“It doesn’t take Homeland Security to figure out that when you lose by four and you’re down 17 at the free throw line, that’s where the edge came from,” Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor said. “I’m not saying anything about, you know, anything other than that’s where the game was determined. And that’s not sour grapes; that’s fact Jack.”

Mason will be back in action on Wednesday night as they play host to the Hofstra Pride.