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