The Patriots escaped the opening round of the Paradise Jam with a narrow victory over Mercer. It seems they haven’t quite kicked the turnover bug that plagued them last season as they ended this one coughing it up 19 times. How did the Patriots win despite doing that you might ask? A combination of tough defense and shooting over 75% from the field in the second half put them in position to still be in the game late despite their sloppy ball handling. Mason also looked much better from the free-throw line and Sherrod Wright getting there late really gave them a lift.
Johnny Williams posted a double-double and had a career-high 10 rebounds. It’s a good sign for Mason that he’s hitting the boards hard. Someone had to pick up the scoring load as they finished 0-8 from the three-point line and starters Bryon Allen and Jon Arledge had quiet days offensively. However they ended up with 19 points off Mercer’s 17 turnovers. Something they will have to continue to do against New Mexico on Sunday.
It will be interesting to see how the return of Erik Copes and Vaughn Gray will impact the team. New Mexico has the advantage in both the front and back court and Copes’ return will very much be welcomed. Mason’s pressure defense will again have to be on its game and give them more possessions. They will need to have more success from behind the arch and perhaps Gray returning will help that. But again, Mason’s defense will be the key if they want to upset the Lobos. They have been pressing well but still have been having some trouble guarding the perimeter. I think it’s worth mentioning that New Mexico had 18 turnovers against UIC.