What’s truly amazing is how the Patriots dominated the glass, collecting 20 offensive rebounds and turning them into 27 second chance points. That’s a recipe for a win most nights but turnovers and fouls doomed them in the second half. Not a surprise given how this season has went for them. They tried everything on defense to try and slow down Kevin Foster but Patrick Holloway and Vertrail Vaughns couldn’t keep him in front of them. Paul Hewitt went with his more veteran guys, Paris Bennett and Vaughns as opposed to Holloway and Marko Gujanicic for long stretches in the second half. It was probably the right move as Holloway and Gujanicic were struggling but having two guys that have barely played much this season out there for crucial parts of the game didn’t help much either.
Mason’s big three heading into next season, Sherrod Wright, Bryon Allen, and Jonathan Arledge didn’t have their best game of the tournament but certainly kept them in this one. Bryon Allen’s slow start and bad night from the field was a hole they couldn’t seem to dig out of. Arledge got two fouls in the first and saw a lot of time on the bench. That left Erik Copes handling the ball a little more than you’d like to see in the post early on. Wright really tried to carry the team on his back and he was impressive. He was getting to the line and hitting outside jumpers. The only problem was Santa Clara seemed to have an answer on the other end to every one of his big plays.
The Patriots didn’t fix all their problems in this tournament but they certainly leave us a feeling a bit more confident about next season than after that loss to Northeastern in the CAA tournament.
[Photo by John Powell]