George Mason fell to Iowa State in the first round of the Diamond Head Classic on Sunday. The Patriots were able to slow down the Cyclones and hold them to their second lowest scoring total of the season but it just wasn’t enough. They ended the first half with only four turnovers and down only five. This was all despite Sherrod Wright being mostly invisible. In the second half Iowa State was finally able to force the pace and their balanced attack was too much for Mason to compete with. The Patriots sent them to the line for 22 free-throws in the second half and that was all she wrote.
Despite some of Mason’s usual problems biting them in the second half (turnovers), they played pretty well in this one. They didn’t come away with the win but defensively they kept Iowa State in check. The 2-3 zone they were running for most of the game gave the Cyclones some problems held their three-point shooting below average. Overall the zone defense was working for them and keep in the mind, ISU is one of the most efficient teams on offense in the country. Paul Hewitt’s willingness to stay in a zone is definitely an encouraging sign moving forward.
On offense Sherrod Wright struggled mightily. His only two points came from the free-throw line in the first half. This is two consecutive games for him where he failed to reach double digit scoring. Hewitt was quick to bench him and while Bryon Allen and Patrick Holloway paced Mason it just wasn’t enough. Early in the game Mason looked like they were exposing ISU’s interior defense getting easy buckets from Marko Gujanicic, Erik Copes, and Johnny Williams. It was non-existent in the second half.
It was interesting to see Anali Okoloji play so much more than Vaughn Gray, especially considering he’s fresh off a suspension. They were in need of some offense with Wright struggling and that’s not exactly what Okoloji brings.
Again Marquise Moore played a considerable amount of minutes more than starter Corey Edwards. He’s still making those freshman mistakes but I continue to like what I see from him.
I said before the game I wasn’t expecting a win but I was hoping to see some fight from these guys. I think we saw that but the question remains is this an actual sign of the team moving forward. Was what we saw in this game what they need to do to compete in the Atlantic 10 this year?
Mason will face Oregon State today at 2:30 pm.