BY DOMENIC ALLEGRA SPORTS EDITOR
“I think the biggest bummer today is we were so excited to get Milica [Manojlovic] eligible,” head coach Nyla Milleson said in the post-game press conference. Things didn’t start well for the Patriots when Manojlovic went down with an apparent knee injury less than five minutes into the game. Mason struggled from the floor and in the paint in this one, but held an SEC team to their lowest point total of the season.
Here are three takeaways from this game:
TOUGHNESS, TOUGHNESS, TOUGHNESS
In the mind of Milleson, this team has played tough throughout the season. Mason women’s basketball has held all but two of their opponents to under 70 points, forced turnovers, taken charges, all to put this team in a position to win.
“We aren’t the most talented, we aren’t the biggest, but there’s some really good pieces here that we’ve just got to find consistency,” Milleson said. “If we would have played with that type of toughness and that type of mentality [against William & Mary], we wouldn’t have been down 18, and it’s a different game.”
Mason forced 14 Ole Miss turnovers but couldn’t capitalize on them, scoring only five points.
After the game, sophomore Jordan Wakefield said, “I think from a toughness standpoint we really just took pride in our defense and just go hard every single time you get in between the lines.”
DEFENSE HELD STRONG, BUT OFFENSE STRUGGLED
The Patriots held Ole Miss to just one free throw attempt in the first half and only 11 total, the second fewest Mason has allowed this season. Mason held the Rebels to only eight attempts from behind the arc, the lowest total for an opponent this season.
“I just think that we did a good job just playing our game, and not letting the other team really dictate what we do on offense,” Wakefield said. “They’re a really good team, but at the end of the day, we just kept doing what we needed to do.”
Mason also held a Power Five opponent to 26 points in one half. While that might seem like a lot, the Patriots can look at it as an achievement.
But the offense, understandably, struggled against an SEC opponent. The Patriots allowed 38 points in the paint, 20 points off turnovers and were held to their fourth fewest points in program history (34).
MASON NEEDS TO FINISH IN THE PAINT
Mason struggled from close range, scoring on 42 percent of their layups (3-7) and scoring only three second-chance points. The Patriots also struggled in the paint in this game, scoring only eight points against the 6-foot Rebels.
“When we’re sometimes a little shaky at the top and then, you know, it gets the team like this, they push you out 2 or 3 feet further than you want to and then, you know, we had no inside game,” Milleson said. “I think Jazmyn [Doster] took one shot. So that’s what we’re preaching, and that’s what we’re preaching — and just that energy and effort in talking on a consistent basis.”
Milleson summed up this game by saying, “There were a lot of good things, but for me, we’ve had two games back-to-back where we’ve really struggled to score — and you’re not going to win many ball games scoring 34 points.”
The Patriots’ next matchup is against Delaware State on Monday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m.