Darryl Monroe had ice water in his veins and knocked down two free throws to tie and then win the game for the Patriots with .7 seconds to go in overtime. Mason’s defense proved to be the difference maker as they forced a 5 second rule inbounds turnover to set up Monroe’s final two free-throws. What a way to end it. Monroe finished the game with 16 points and 13 rebounds while playing 38 minutes. Andre Cornelius (9 pts) and Ryan Pearson (13 pts) were stellar in their debuts while Dre Smith and Louis Birdsong struggled. The game opened up very sloppy with both teams turning over the ball and lot and taking fouls. The three-point shooting was awful for both squads and the shot selection left most fans head scratching, but at the end of the 1st half Isaiah Tate nailed a three-pointer to give the Patriots their first lead. From that point on you knew it was going to be a dog fight.
The escape from Vermont with a win could not have happened without the exceptional play from Mason’s prized freshmen. Cornelius and Pearson were inserted into the game early and contributed right away not showing their inexperience. John Vaughan had wrist problems from last weeks scrimmage at Georgetown that carried over into this game. Vaughan, Long, Cornelius, and Smith were featured in a four guard lineup often, something similar to what Larranaga was running at the end of last season. The lineup proved to be pretty effective and Mason was still able to out rebound Vermont. Marqus Blakely had his 20 and 10 but John Vaughan’s defense on Mike Trimboli proved to be the difference down the stretch. I had stated yesterday that Blakely was going to have a big game and there was no stopping him and for the Patriots to win they would have to contain the rest of Vermont’s perimeter players. Mason did just that and held the Catamounts offense in check when it mattered.