Red Wings’ Howard leaves game with lower-body in­jury

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports -

DETROIT | Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard left Sun­day’s game against the Chicago Black­hawks af­ter the first pe­riod be­cause of a lower body in­jury. He gave up one goal on five shots and the score was tied 1-1. He was back on the bench early in the sec­ond pe­riod.

Howard, who missed eight games last month with a bro­ken fin­ger, was re­placed by Joey Mac­don­ald. Howard also made his first All-star Game ap­pear­ance this sea­son. turnovers in the first half.

“We feel like if we don’t have live ball turnovers, we’re a great de­fen­sive team,” Hewitt said. “It’s tough to de­fend a live-ball turnover. It re­ally hurts you giv­ing up those easy bas­kets.”

Yet those ad­just­ments did come, and a cu­ri­ous thing hap­pened. The Pa­tri­ots, who looked ut­terly out of sorts by the time Burgess hit his third 3-pointer to make it 12-0, slowly cre­ated a chance to sal­vage some­thing from a po­ten­tial de­ba­cle.

The deficit was 16 points at half­time. It hov­ered around 10 for a chunk of the sec­ond half. And when Mike Mor­ri­son (20 points, 11 re­bounds) made two free throws with 3:17 re­main­ing, the Pa­tri­ots trailed 64-58.

It was, clearly, just a bit too much to ask of Ma­son, es­pe­cially with con­fer­ence player of the year Ryan Pear­son strug­gling to a six-point day. The Pa­tri­ots missed a tip-in and 3-point­ers from Ver­trail Vaughns and Jonathan Arledge to cre­ate an even tighter game be­fore VCU fin­ished things off at the foul line.

“We kept fight­ing,” Mor­ri­son said. “We knew we just had to chip away and chip away. The young guys, the older guys, we all fought and we all be­lieved. At no point in the game did we feel we couldn’t come back. Give ev­ery­body credit on that. We stuck to­gether all the way to the end.

The Rams (27-6) will face top-seeded Drexel (27-5) in Mon­day’s ti­tle game.

Ma­son, mean­while, prob­a­bly will re­ceive the op­por­tu­nity to play again, just not in the NCAA tour­na­ment. Hewitt said he had yet to dis­cuss post­sea­son pos­si­bil­i­ties with ath­letic di­rec­tor Tom O’con­nor.

Re­gard­less, it was an un­usual way for the dream of con­sec­u­tive NCAA bids to end. The Pa­tri­ots’ hu­mil­i­at­ing early strug­gles es­sen­tially cost them al­most any chance of reach­ing the con­fer­ence ti­tle game. And yet, given a few more min­utes, Ma­son might have caught VCU.

What’s that worth? Not enough to move, but cer­tainly some sel­f­re­spect that ap­peared en­dan­gered for nine long, dread­ful min­utes the Pa­tri­ots would no doubt pay dearly to have back.

“We wanted to win and we didn’t, but I’m still very proud of my teammates,” Mor­ri­son said. “The whole team, we fought back and never quit. I don’t know. I’m dis­ap­pointed with the loss, but when you fall that far be­hind, the best you can do is fight back that far. We fell just short.”

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