The Patriots improve to 11-1 at home with an overall record of 15-5.
BY CARSON ALGER, ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR
Mason men’s basketball defeated the Rhode Island Rams 92-84 in the annual homecoming game on Jan. 27 at EagleBank Arena. The Patriots started the game slow with the Rams leading the score 14-4 in the middle of the first half, but later picked it up with the first half ending 42-40 in favor of URI.
“My trust level is pretty high with these guys,” Head Coach Tony Skinn said. Mason was able to grow the trust more as the first-year coach viewed the team comeback from a 10-point deficit early in the game.
Graduate student guard Darius Maddox recorded a career-high 24 points for Mason. Maddox finished the game shooting 50% from three and 8-13 from the field. “He shot the lights out tonight,” Skinn said.
Graduate student guard Jared Billups continued his strengths with great defense and being a great all-around player with six points and 12 rebounds.
Freshman guard Baraka Okojie also finished with a career-high of 18 points, two assists, and three rebounds. Okojie explained his experiences in his role at Mason, “being a point guard, knowing when to pass, when to be a scorer, when to slow down, I’m still learning but I feel like I’m doing a great job.”
Sophomore guard Keyshawn Hall finished the game with 22 points, four rebounds, and four assists. The sophomore guard started the game slow due to foul trouble. Hall was able to pick it up in the points department with his game in the post and trips to the free-throw line.
The Rhode Island Rams game was really surrounded around making shots beyond the arc. The team shot 48.1%, from three, but struggled to a low 54% from the free-throw line. The Rams key pieces to the game were David Green with 29 points, Cam Estevez with 15 points, Jaden House with 13 points, and David Fuchs with 12 points.
The Patriots strengths were the opposites of their opponents as they shot well from the free-throw line with a 75.8% but struggled from behind the arc with a 31.8%.
The Patriots were able to lean on their home fans in EagleBank Arena as 7,000 were in attendance for the annual homecoming game. Baraka Okojie said, “I’d never played in an atmosphere like that, using them as energy on offense and defense, the crowd was our 6th man.” Keyshawn Hall said, “I loved the energy. I wish we could have every home game like that.”
The win gives the Patriots a two-game win streak. The Patriots will continue their A-10 schedule with road games Jan. 31 at Saint Joesph’s and Feb. 3 at Massachusetts. Mason will return to EagleBank Arena on Feb. 7 against Loyola Chicago at 7 p.m.