John Powell, Asst. Sports Editor

It did not look very good for the men’s basketball team. No shots went their way, Old Dominion held a tight defense, and the only point that came in the first nine minutes was on a free throw from freshman forward Johnny Williams.

“Five of our first six shots I thought were really good . . . but when you miss an easy shot, it’s still a miss,” said Head Coach Jim Larranaga.

The Patriots were held to shooting only 44.4 percent from the field, while they shot 70 percent from the free throw line.
Shooting problems were not the only things plaguing the Patriots (16-10, 11-4), but the nine first-half turnovers gave the Monarchs (20-7, 12-3) point after point on the fastbreak. They came on dribbles, they came on passes.

Mason basically could not find a way to keep the ball, even giving it away on a shot-clock violation.

The Monarchs, on the other hand, made crisp passes, picked up their own rebounds and Mason’s as well.

“They have got a good team. They are good defensively, especially good when their rebounders are playing well,” said Larranaga of the Monarchs’ defense.

The Patriots finally hit a stride, matching the Monarchs’ scoring, with the help of some shooting fouls, but it came a bit late, as the game clock ended the first half before any scoring run could come.

There was no Mason star of the half, as junior guard Cam Long was the high-scorer of the half with a measly five points.

Unfortunately, the second half saw more of the sloppy ball handling that was evident in the first half, leading to a 19-point margin,
effectively handing the Monarchs the game.

It was evident that sophomore forward Mike Morrison had a problem with something. It may have been his own team or the Monarchs, but he took it out on everyone around him.

Only a few minutes into the second half, Morrison flailed under the basket and yelled at a referee. This earned him, and more importantly the team, two technical fouls.

Ejected and dejected, Morrison was escorted from the court to watch his team flounder for the last 15 minutes.

“[Mike] was frustrated and lost his composure for a moment,” said Larranaga of the play. “Mike already has tremendous emotion and energy, but we talk to the players all the time about channeling your energy in a positive direction.”

This sad sight brought the 19-point Monarch lead to a 23-point lead on four consecutive foul shots by senior forward Gerald Lee, making the score 48-25.

Sophomore guard Andre Cornelius fought until the end of the game, leading the team in scoring with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, with a 3-of-6 mark from outside the arc.

The occasional 3-pointer gave the Patriots brief life, but it was not enough to overcome the incredible deficit that they dug themselves into.

Mason still needs to be in the top four in the conference to gain the first-round bye, so they will need to fare well for the rest of the season to maintain, or raise, its third-place mark.

The game that will be looked at to decide the fate of Mason basketball, should they lose the tournament, will be the upcoming homecoming game against the College of Charleston Cougars, which will be televised on the ESPN family of networks as part of the ESPN BracketBuster event.

Mason’s next game is Tuesday night at the Patriot Center against the William & Mary Tribe at 7:00 p.m., the first of four games to close out the season.