Men’s basketball team lose season opener

Kaleel Weatherly, staff writer                                                                           David Schrack, IV Estate photos

In its season opener at EagleBank Arena Friday evening, Mason’s men’s basketball team was defeated by the Colgate University Raiders with a final score of 66-53.

Both teams had a rough first half. Mason shot 9-24 from the field, while the Raiders shot 8-22 from the field and only one for nine from beyond the arch. Both teams shot under 50 percent from the free-throw line.

Still, the Patriots did a nice job of crashing the boards in the first half, finishing with 22 rebounds. The Raiders were not far behind with 20 boards.

Even with more rebounds, however, the Patriots could not seem to keep the ball to themselves, resulting in nine turnovers in comparison to the Raiders’ four.

The first half was shaky for everyone, but there were still some impressive moments both teams. Raiders’ forward Jordan Swopshire made a nice drive to the basket for two points on the baseline. Managing to keep his feet in bounds by mere inches, Swopshire made a tough layup amid a crowd of Mason defenders.

The Patriots’ best play of the half came from guard Marquise Moore who made a step-back jumper that put Mason in the lead at the half-time buzzer.

Mason forward Marko Gujanicic finished as the team’s leading scorer for the half with seven points, having shot three for six from the field.

Though the Patriots entered the second half with a 22-20 lead, the Raiders managed to catch up quickly with 46 boards in the second half.

Raiders forward Tom Rivard put on a solid performance in the second half with 20 points, while guard Austin Tillotson was racking up assists in the second half with five assists. The team as a whole finished the game shooting 50 percent from the floor.

The Patriots’ shooting percentage regressed in the second half. Players shot just 28 percent from the field because they could not get most of their shots to fall, and the team made just five assists in total and shot 8.3 percent from beyond the arc.

“We are not a good 3-point shooting team. We knew that, so that is not a surprise. We are definitely a work in progress offensively,” Patriots’ Head Coach, David Paulsen, said.

The team seemed to have many missed shot attempts, which Paulsen said the team will look to improve in the future. He also noted that first-game jitters took a toll on the team’s freshmen players, who happen to be some of Mason’s strongest 3-point shooters.

Still, the Patriots had some solid moments during the second half. Constantly driving into the paint to score points, Moore finished with 13 points, staking the team lead. In one play, Moore’s defense helped him record a steal that let him score two points on a fast break.

“I was just trying to be aggressive and make plays. Coach told me to attack and said that I was playing too tentative. I was just trying to get inside and make plays for myself and my teammates,” Moore said.

Center Shevon Thompson shot poorly from the field, but he managed to finish the game with five points and 14 boards for the Patriots.

Thompson said that his first priority during Friday’s game was to rebound the ball for his team. He would have had a higher point total, he said, but he missed most of his free throws, going one for nine at the free throw line.

Shooting 51.4 percent for the game, the Patriots did not shoot well from the free-throw line. “Free throws were obviously a big issue. We shot them well in practice. I think that there was a little bit of performance anxiety from some of our guys,” Paulsen said.

Paulsen said that the team will be using upcoming practices to review game clips and tighten up ball work.

“We will come in tomorrow and get a lot of shots up. We will watch the film of the game, so they can see what they did wrong or how they can do it better. We are going to respond,” Paulsen said.

Mason’s men’s basketball team lost to Mercer 69-60 on Monday, Nov. 16. They compete in the Gildan Charleston Classic on Thursday, Nov. 19 in Charleston, S.C.