Cody Norman, Staff Writer

Over the last two seasons, the men’s basketball team has posted an incredible 25-1 record while playing at the Patriot Center.

They have notched 18 consecutive victories against Colonial Athletic Association opponents dating all the way back to Feb. 16, 2008. As fate would have it, the Patriots took the court on Tuesday night against the William & Mary Tribe, exactly two years since their last home conference loss.

The Patriots were without sophomore forward Mike Morrison, who was suspended for two games after receiving a pair of technical fouls in the game against the Old Dominion Monarchs last Saturday. Morrison is averaging eight points and better than five rebounds per game this season, so Head Coach Jim Larranaga and his squad had a sizeable hole to fill on Tuesday night.

After an extremely slow start on the offensive end, redshirt freshman forward Kevin Foster came off the bench to spark the home team. Foster brought energy to both sides of the floor and finished the half with 12 points, five rebounds, two blocks and one steal in just 12 minutes of work.

Sophomore guard Andre Cornelius found his stroke from long range and canned 3-of-4 3-pointers in an early nine-point effort.

The Patriots held a 36-25 advantage after 20 minutes of play due in large part to a 21-4 bench scoring advantage.

William & Mary closed the gap with an immediate 5-0 run and were right on the Patriots’ heels for the rest of the way. With the score tied at 50 and seven minutes remaining in the game, Mason seemed to regain momentum after back-to-back alley-oops from freshman forward Luke Hancock to Foster gave the Patriots a four-point advantage.

“[The consecutive alley-oops] got the crowd into it,” said Hancock. “It felt like we were going to execute, but [the Tribe] responded.”

The Tribe clawed their way back again and outscored Mason 13-6 in the closing minutes to hand the Patriots their first home conference loss in exactly two years by a final score of 63-60.

Foster filled the void left by Morrison’s suspension by racking up 22 points on 11-of-16 shooting and gathering nine rebounds in 29 minutes of work for Larranaga’s squad.

Hancock added seven points and seven assists, and Cornelius finished the night with nine points.

The Patriots’ top two scorers, junior guard Cam Long and sophomore forward Ryan Pearson, combined for only nine points in the losing effort.

Larranaga was certainly disappointed to see the team’s winning streak come to an end, but he was not dissatisfied with the effort his team gave.

“We certainly played well enough to win the game,” said Larranaga. “We had the ball right there at the end with a chance to win the game. Some night[s] you finish [and] make a couple free throws like we did [against VCU] and tonight we missed a driving layup because the defender made a great defensive play.”

The Patriots will play one last home game this season when they host top-ranked Northeastern Huskies on Saturday, Feb. 27 at the Patriot Center.