Ge­orge Ma­son can’t com­plete come­back from 32-4 deficit

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY PA­TRICK STEVENS

RICH­MOND | There’s not much Ge­orge Ma­son would like to have back from its bas­ket­ball sea­sons.

Nine min­utes Sun­day might be the ex­cep­tion.

The third-seeded Pa­tri­ots’ hopes of a re­turn trip to the NCAA tour­na­ment were dashed with a 74-64 loss to sec­ond-seeded Virginia Com­mon­wealth in the CAA semi­fi­nals at Rich­mond Coli­seum, a score not re­motely ca­pa­ble of re­flect­ing the stun­ning dis­par­ity be­tween the af­ter­noon’s early stages and its con­clu­sion.

VCU scored the game’s first 22 points, made its first eight 3-point­ers and held a 32-4 edge be­fore sput­ter­ing and per­mit­ting Ma­son to pull to six late in the sec­ond half.

“We weren’t ready at the start,” coach Paul Hewitt said. “That falls on me. When they started hit­ting those threes, we should have started mak­ing some ad­just­ments ear­lier.”

Re­ally, though, who would have been ready for the Rams’ blitz?

The one com­po­nent Ma­son was un­able to han­dle also was the most pre­dictable. VCU’S pres­sure flum­moxed the Pa­tri­ots (24-9), and the Rams forced turnovers on five of Ma­son’s first six pos­ses­sions.

By the time the Pa­tri­ots took their sec­ond shot, VCU al­ready led 9-0.

“Just be­ing ag­gres­sive of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively tak­ing them out of their sets,” VCU guard Brad­ford Burgess (20 points) said. “We got them into turnovers in the be­gin­ning and we just took ad­van­tage of it.”

Ma­son fin­ished with 17 turnovers, in­clud­ing a dozen in the first half. The Rams held a 17-0 scor­ing edge off

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