John Powell, Asst. Sports Editor

So Mason’s loss may just come back to bite them. They had a shot at Northeastern on Saturday, but the late foul by Ryan Pearson may have cost the Patriots the game.

It was one of the lowest-scoring contests I’ve ever witnessed. No doubt it was because of the referees’ tendency to allow contact everywhere — on offense and defense, on shooting and dribbling — without blowing the whistle.

I don’t blame Ryan for the contact. First of all, on a fast play like that, it is, as Coach Larranaga said, “a mad scramble.” Second of all, the referees had not been calling many shooting fouls on the Patriots; Northeastern only shot eight free throws the entire game. Finally, Chaisson Allen made a good play. Instead of attempting to drive to the basket with under a second to go, he pulled up for the trey, probably hoping to make it or get fouled like he did.

Ryan should have figured the referees game-calling out by that point. There were only two Patriots with more than one personal foul: Luke Hancock with two and Pearson with four. The referees may have just had an eye out for the big man off the bench.

“As disappointing as that is, the regular season is over,” said Larranaga after the game. “Every team goes into the tournament with the same record: zero and zero.”

He’s right. Old Dominion (23-8, 15-3) and VCU (20-8, 11-7), Mason’s two most formidable possible foes, are both winless as far as the tournament is concerned.

VCU actually needs to win against Delaware to play Mason. Mason beat both teams at the Patriot Center earlier in the year, although they dropped their game at Old Dominion.

If they want to have any shot at the Colonial Athletic Association title, Cam Long is going to need to get hot quickly. After getting hot near the beginning of conference play, Cam has gone cold quickly.
His team has gone cold with him. Other than the 83-point blip against College of Charleston, Saturday’s game marked the one-month anniversary of getting more than 70 points in a game, when they had 77 against Delaware at the end of January.

“We’ll have to meet as a team and talk about what we need to do to get him going because he’s a huge part of our offense,” said Larranaga after Saturday’s game.

The other teams’ stars haven’t gone cold though. Old Dominion’s Gerald Lee netted 21 points in his final regular season game and VCU’s balanced offense, with Larry Sanders on the inside and Joey Rodriguez on the outside, has kept them close in every game, making them hard to beat outside of Richmond, and even harder to beat at home. Since the conference tournament is in Richmond, every game is a home game for VCU.

The other side of the tournament is undoubtedly easier, since top seeds Northeastern and William & Mary have both struggled recently, losing games that were seemingly easy to win.

If Mason can pull off a win against VCU, they may be able to ride the momentum against Old Dominion to reach the finals, barring some other upset.

The tournament is certainly not in Mason’s favor, but they, and the other 11 teams in the conference, certainly have a shot at the title.