Yesterday I posted a few keys to the game for George Mason, #2 being “keep them off the free-throw line”. The Patriots didn’t play a terrible game by any means but they let the game get away from them at times by continually sending Bucknell to the free-throw line. It ruined any chance Mason had of getting their fast paced offense going and key players had to sit due to foul trouble. By the end of the second half, Johnny Williams, Jon Arledge, and Marko Gujanicic had all fouled out. You can see from the “Four Factors” chart below the huge difference in the rates that each team got to the free-throw line. What’s even more incredible is that Bucknell won this game while going 5-for-20 in the second half. You can see how big an impact all those trips to the line had but despite all that Mason was still in this one til the end.
Freshman Patrick Holloway, who didn’t play much against UVA, took advantage of the extra minutes available due to all the early fouls. He finished with 11 points in 12 minutes of action and went 3-for-5 on his three-point shooting. He nearly tied the game in the closing seconds off an excellent look from behind the arch. Interesting how Holloway was the one taking that last shot, but it’s not like he’s never been in that situation before. Oh and here is an interesting stat comparison: Vertrail Vaughns this year 40 minutes, 0-5 on three-pointers while Patrick Holloway has played 16 minutes is 3-6 from there.
Mason’s offense sputtered when certain guys got into foul trouble. They basically had no post game because Johnny Williams and Jon Arledge kept having to go to the bench and it made them very one-dimensional. The officiating was inconsistent but it’s not an excuse for the Patriots. They rushed a ton of shots late in the game and overall just didn’t play smart basketball when it counted. They fought well on the boards and forced a lot of turnovers. The only problem was they didn’t convert on many of the turnovers.
By the end of the season this won’t be considered a “bad loss” by any means. It would have been nice to see the Patriots pick up a key road win this early though. It’s hard to figure how much better the team would have played with Erik Copes in the lineup. With the way the fouls were being called in the second half I suspect he would have been the first guy in trouble. But on the other hand he might have swatted away a few shots to make a difference in the middle. Mike Muscala had a double-double and perhaps Copes could have prevented that but we’ll just have to wonder.