by Stephen Kline

RICHMOND – As the Rams lined up to pose for a picture with Bradford Burgess on Senior Night, the Patriots emerged from the tunnel much to the irratation of the sold-out crowd inside the Siegel Center.

Their unwanted presence in the background of the Rams’ photo drew a subtle exchange of words between the two rivals.­­

VCU had just been disrespected on their home floor. And they would not soon forget.

by Stephen Kline

“We noticed,” said Shaka Smart, VCU coach. “And we fed off of it.”

From the opening tip, Mason was a step slower than the active VCU defense. They turned the ball over 14 times in the first half, helping the Rams build a 16-point lead heading into the break.

Point guards Bryon Allen and Corey Edwards had more turnovers (6) than the entire Rams’ roster in the first 20 minutes of play.

“I’m of the belief that they are the kind of team that is going to have those runs,” Hewitt said. “But if you hang in there, you’re going to give yourselves a chance.”

The second half, however, carried a much different tune.

Mason outscored their opponents 50-46 in the half, chipping away at a sizeable deficit and pulling within 11 points on several different occasions.

But just when the Patriots would find a rhythm, they’d fall victim to a tough break and see their deficit build back up before eventually falling by a final score of 89-77.

“The second half did a better job,” Hewitt said.

“We had a couple chances to get back into the game, but a couple technical fouls kind of killed our momentum.”

Seniors Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson were called for technical fouls for hanging on the rim and for protesting a call, respectively.

Falling by 12 points, the Patriots played at a heavy disadvantage from the charity stripe.

They were whistled for 12 more fouls, allowing VCU to shoot 47 free throws in comparison to the Patriots’ 28 attempts.

“We fouled them,” Hewitt said. “I thought we could have done a much better shot defensively, moving our feet. But we fouled them. That’s why the numbers were so off.”

Three Patriots recorded double-digits in the scoring column, as Pearson led the way with another solid 24-point, 9-rebound outing.

Morrison contributed 10 points and nine rebounds, while Sherrod Wright continued his strong play off the bench, scoring 11 points in 25 minutes.

by Stephen Kline

Mason finished the evening with 20 turnovers and just 10 assists, despite allowing 17 assists and seven total turnovers for the Rams.

With the loss, Mason fell to the third seed in this weekend’s CAA Tournament back down in Richmond.

They will play the winner of Georgia State and Hofstra on Saturday night with the potential to face off for a third time this season against the VCU Rams.