To the surprise of no one George Mason came out flat to start another game. The Patriots started out 1-5 from the field in first seven minutes and turned over the ball six times during that span. Defensively they were better but Princeton’s efficient offense was just too much for them to handle. Mason often challenged the Tigers’ shooters but it seems they would always find the open man and nail a shot. Princeton shot 64% in the first half and 62% on the game. In the end it wasn’t Princeton’s three-point shooting that downed Mason, they only hit six on the night, but just their ability to take advantage of the officiating and the choppiness of the game. Sherrod Wright (27 points) almost single-handedly brought Mason back after being down by as many of 17 but no one else could consistently score for them.
Back to the flow of the game for a second, because I think the way Mason couldn’t take advantage was extremely telling. Mason was coming back and even tied the game in the second half but during that time the referees were calling EVERY touch foul. The pace of the game favored Princeton’s slow offense but Mason should have been able to get to the line nearly every possession and they didn’t. Princeton wasn’t playing great defense and Mason should have taken control at that point. Despite the fact that they never seem to be able to shoot over 68% from the line, they should have continued driving the lane and opening things up for other guys. The offensive game plan of the Paul Hewitt era continues to baffle me at times.
The rotation was interesting. I understand that Hewitt was playing Anali Okoloji more because of Princeton’s size but Patrick Holloway only playing five minutes seems crazy. We also didn’t see much of Jalen Jenkins either. Freshman Marquise Moore was out due to an injury he sustained in practice. Basically only seven guys were used, something we haven’t seen all season, especially when Okoloji had played rarely up until this point. Why not just stick with the regular rotation? Did Princeton’s size alone warrant such a radical lineup change?
Princeton’s isn’t a bad team and yes they did have an exceptional night shooting the ball but these things were known coming in. Mason, once again, just did not look ready to start the game.