Late turnovers doom George Mason, again.

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For once it appeared that George Mason was finally going to play 40 minutes of good basketball but they came up about 30 seconds short. The Patriots held a three point lead with 26 seconds remaining it the game before the collapse. Chaz Williams, who killed Mason all night, hit a free-throw, then Sherrod Wright stepped on the out of bounds line for an extremely costly turnover. Williams scored again, and then stole the ball on the inbound from Wright, missed the lay-up, but Derrick Gordon got the rebound and made the easy lay-up for the win. You might  be wondering why George Mason didn’t call a timeout during this mess, oh that’s because they didn’t have any left. Not like it would have done much good as the plays they ran out of timeouts prior to this were awful.

The veterans really let Mason down at the end of this game in more ways than just turnovers. All three seniors seemed to have a mental breakdown during the closing minutes of this game despite playing very well up until that point. It was finally a game where Wright and Allen were on the same page and took control of the offense. Wright, Allen, and Jenkins combined for 63 of Mason’s 87 points. They find of a good combination of Wright/Allen and Jalen Jenkins inside to maintain a lead for most of the game.

Offensive production was not the problem but slowing down Chaz Williams was. Towards the end of the game, with the lead and UMass needing to send Mason to the line to make a comeback, they let Williams score way too easily. Mason lack of a solid on-the-ball defender really killed them here. Williams is one of the quickest guards in the country but you cannot allow him to get to the rim that easily.

Sadly, this was one of Mason’s better games of the season that we’ve seen them play. They seemed to have more fire and weren’t just relying on one guy to score. Wright and Allen both tried to do a lot but their miscues at the end were very costly. You just can’t have that happen from your veterans and expect to win.

[Photos by Bill Bride]

 

  • Masonfansince03

    Can’t really say Sadly this is the best they have played, because they did play great, but like you said, they just came up about 30 seconds short of a complete game! No time outs at the end hurt them, but what hurt them more was not having a coach who prepared a team for a end-of-game situation where they needed to get the ball inbounds and across half court. How do you have a D1 team and not have several of these plays in place for your team to run? Regardless of whether or not they had a timeout to discuss one of these plays, you, as a coach, should have had them prepared long before the start of the game for such a situation. Sad that this did not happen, and we let a great opportunity slip away. Disappointing for sure! It’s clear that Hewitt has no plans for a close game in the final few seconds of the game, which sucks since we can’t seem to put a team away!

    • Bill Bride

      Agreed. You always like to have a time out in your pocket in the last two minutes of a close game. I just sat there stunned after that game. Took me a good two or three minutes to get up, grab my gear and leave the court. Just incredible how they let this slip away. Sherrod missed two free throws midway in the second half and I kept thinking that’s going to leave a mark. Lost by 1. Speaking of Sherrod, nice to see him bounce back and I was impressed with Jalen Jenkins as well. I really thought they had this game won.

    • Rick Jank

      I heartily agree, but that said, allow me to complain …. am I the only one who thinks that was an awfully strong bump that Sherrod received after that final inbounds? I understand the refs try to let ‘em play late in a game, but that did force Wright to take a step, and I think he was also expecting a whistle … and before you know it there went half his 5 seconds. Oh well, the greatest crime in those last seconds was the lack of a decent inbounds play, as others have mentioned. Wright had no one to throw to. And the weird thing was we just finished playing VCU where it was obvious we had worked on solving the press!

      • Chris Hirsch

        Not the reason we lost but the refs were God awful last night.

        • GMUPATS74

          Which is strange because they called 23 fouls on UMASS and only 15 on GMU. Usually that’s enough to win.

          • Chris Hirsch

            They missed about 3 goaltends on UMASS, carries, travels

    • GMUPATS74

      That’s Blewitt Ball for you!

    • StopWearingPurple

      As with others, the most frustrating part of the game was
      turning over the ball on the final three possessions. As, the two previous possessions had near
      turnovers. So that was really five scary
      possessions. That’s on the coach. Also, I felt bad for Wright who was working
      hard but could not buy a basket in the final three minutes.

      A really good surprise was how the offense was able to pull
      out of tailspin that had them looking stagnant from the about the nine minute
      mark to the six minute mark in the second half.
      That was a first for this season.

      The best part of the evening was seeing a great game in an
      electric atmosphere at the Patriot Center.
      There have been some games this year, even games we have won, where I
      left feeling like a saw a second rate game and was not looking forward to the
      next home game. After last night I am
      looking forward to GW next Saturday and I hope we see another great game. Hopefully with a win.

  • Chris Hirsch

    Paul Blewitt can best be summed up by his taking a timeout with 3:58 left in the game, even though you are going to get an automatic media timeout under 4 minutes.

    Offense got very stagnant late in the game and allowed UMASS to come back. Sherrod also missed two crucial free throws late in the game.

    • Rick Jank

      Sherrod and Bryon were both perfect from the stripe until the last 5 minutes where they were a combined 3-6 from the line.

  • Chris Hirsch

    One positive, Johnnie Wiliams came to play last night, wish he could do that on a more consistent basis.

    Offense didn’t miss Corey Edwards in the least.

    • Rick Jank

      Agreed, but defensively I wonder if Edwards might have been the one guy with enough quicks to slow down Chaz Williams just a little.

      • Matt Cerilli

        Definitely agree with you there Rick. Feel like Hewitt kept throwing in Okoloji who Chaz Williams blew by every time with ease.

      • StopWearingPurple

        After Williams hit that three from way out I wondered if anybody could stop him. On the plus side they handled UMass’ big men and even got them to foul out.

  • ECE2013Alum

    Hello all, this is my first time posting, and I’ve been
    following GMU Hoops all season. Thanks Mr. Ryan for blogging consistently, I
    always look forward to reading the posts. I’m a Mason 2013 grad, and I’ve been
    a loyal Patriots fan and attending most home games since the times of Cam Long
    and John Vaughan.

    On the game last night:
    First, contrary to popular opinion, I honestly have hope for
    Hewitt. He’s got class, I like how he gives quality minutes to at least 8 or 9
    players per game, and he doesn’t play favorites within his team. Call me crazy,
    but I still think he’s got a lot of potential at Mason, and he just hasn’t
    reached it yet.
    Secondly, man we were playing really well last night. Sherrod
    was on, we were hitting our free throws like we’ve never done before, Copes and
    Williams were each giving Lalanne hell in the paint on D, and we were getting
    And-1’s like crazy! There was a 2 or 3 minute stretch 2nd half where we started
    our slump, but Hewitt got us out of it, and we picked up the tempo again. Also, we
    were able to cause two of their star players to foul out, which was huge. So,
    all in all, I think we played a stellar game.

    BUT, I don’t care if you are playing the number 1 ranked
    team in the country or the last ranked, YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO BREAK A PRESS.
    Period. There is absolutely no excuse to turn the ball over (twice!!) because you
    can’t break a press. And that falls (mostly I think) on Hewitt for not having
    ANY workable plays ready, and on the team. I’m still in disbelief. And for
    crying out loud, you can’t let PEANUT drive to the basket so easily every time.

    • GMUPATS74

      Who’s Peanut?

      • ECE2013Alum

        Williams…

    • Mason7Eleven

      The problem I see with Hewitt spreading the minutes around is consistency. I’m not the biggest Marko fan, but he barely played last night. Corey, as someone already pointed out, didn’t see a minute (and ran the point for us for a good part of last year).
      When it comes down to those final minutes, chemistry is as important as ever. Not only did Blewitt not have a puke play for the final seconds, but the group of guys he had on the court don’t haven’t played together enough.

      • ECE2013Alum

        Hey my reply to ricandersen below would be my reply to your post as well. Basically, I’ hoping that we are building chemistry as a team, and though it may be ugly now, maybe we’ll shine come the a10 tourney… We’ll see

    • ricandersen

      “I like how he gives quality minutes to at least 8 or 9 players per game, and he doesn’t play favorites within his team.”

      I, on the other hand, would like Hewitt to find a lineup that works, and then stick with it. Giving quality minutes to 8 or 9 players when 3 or 4 are ineffective does not get it done. I would love for him to stick with a good lineup (maybe Wright, Allen, and Jenkins, as Ryan points out, who really gelled last night). I would love him to play favorites with them.

      I would argue that a lot of our losses this season are summed-up by Hewitt seemingly randomly throwing out different combination of players trying to find a lineup that was effective.

      • ECE2013Alum

        Well, see here’s my thing. I’m all for the ‘Hoosiers’ philosophy (great movie if you haven’t seen it). My hope is that by giving everyone in-game experience, even though we may struggle in the regular season, we will excel come playoff time. I’m hoping that we will have built chemistry as an entire team, as opposed to just a few players, so that we create an unstoppable set of at least 7 guys. And I think that will help for next year too, with Porter, Lockett, and Mayimba merging with the team. So, my hope is that the team will build around a strong foundation, as opposed to just a few players.

        But, at the same time, if Hewitt sincerely has no idea what he’s doing, has no plan, and just throwing players in at a whim, then we’re surely doomed. But I want to see how we do come tournament time, I think that will answer a lot of questions I have at least.

      • Chris Hirsch

        All of this. His rotation has no rhyme or reason and that messes with a players psyche when he has no clue what his role on the team is. Hewitt changes his mind about Vaughn Gray daily it seems.

        • GMUPATS74

          Vaughn makes use of his limited time though. Don’t you think?

          • Kyle Stegner

            Yes he sure does. Problem is I don’t think this guy is ever going to be a starter even when Sherrod Wright is gone. They have one scholarship left and they are probably looking for a stud SG to add onto the three freshmen and the four star Georgia Tech transfer coming to Mason’s roster next season. Feel kind of bad for the guy. Vaughn and Corey will be the last traces of Larranaga and both probably be benched next season.

          • Chris Hirsch

            Eh he is alright, he would probably do better if he knew where the hell he stood in the rotation, instead of playing for 15 minutes some games then sitting the bench for 4 more games.

      • Rick Jank

        I believe a team can prosper with a large rotation of 8 or 9 players… with a good coach who is strong on the fundamentals. Although for some the jury is still out on Hewitt, I just don’t think he is up to the task. I will say this: we are playing improved ball as of late, whether that be because of the team being amped up for conference play, our opponents not being used to us, or the team figuring out we have two good freshmen and giving them more playing time. If indeed we are destined to be a team that gels by the end of February, I think it will be because our freshmen take over the starting roles and the rotation does indeed slim down, with more clear cut starter and sub roles for each player.

  • ricandersen

    Blowing a 5-pt lead to UNM in final 12 seconds last year steeled me for blowing 5-pt lead to UMass in final 36 seconds last night.

    I would have posted this snark earlier, but in all honesty, last night night was a kidney punch, and I needed to step away from this for 12 hours.

    Last year’s breakdown against the Lobos hurt more, actually. There was hope for Mason last season, and it seemed that was a turning point for the season. Sure, Mason played well last night, but this season has long ago reached “joke proportions,” so this meltdown seemed more in character. Hurt last night, funny tonight.

    I say all this in seriousness.

  • tommy2

    Peanut, as someone referenced Williams, is one of the best and quickest guards in the country. He’s a Beast and his diminutive size does not make him easier to stop. As for everything else, the majority of teams in D1 can play with each other and keep a game reasonably close; not all, but the majority. Mason is one of those teams. They may have a poor game and get blown out, but for the most part they will be competitive. It will usually come down to the final 5 minutes when it is all about concentration and execution. Having solid leadership on the court and on the bench, guys knowing where to be on the court, playing under control, getting the ball in the hands of the right people in the right place, staying with the defensive game plan… That’s what determines wins and losses in college basketball. From the results we are seeing, it’s obvious the final minutes are not a strength for this Coach or squad. I agree with some of the posts about who was on the court at the end of the game. Figure out who needs to be in crunch time and let that group get comfortable playing together. At this point, they should benefit from the experience of the close losses, but it’s always a different group getting the experience!

    • ECE2013Alum

      Yes, I made the peanut comment, and I just wanted to say I
      completely agree with you, Williams is a beast. He’s like a Nate Robinson. But
      that just makes it all the more frustrating because he’s so damn good! Calling
      him peanut made me feel better at the game lol

      • tommy2

        I hear you. A beastly peanut! Nate is a good comparison.

  • David Houck

    All I did was ask for 40 minutes…. That’s all I wanted

    • GMUPATS74

      And in return you got 39 minutes and change.