Men’s Basketball Struggles in 73-68 Overtime Loss at Delaware

Posted: January 10, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

The Mason men’s basketball team struggled with Delaware’s pressure defense in the second half as a 19-point Patriot lead evaporated and the Blue Hens, behind 15 second-half Mason turnovers, rallied for a 73-68 overtime win in Newark, Del.

Mason had a 15-point lead with 12:31 to play when Folarin Campbell picked up his fourth foul. With him on the bench, Delaware went to pressure defense, and it proved successful. Delaware remains the Colonial Athletic Association’s lone unbeaten team, improving to 7-7, 4-0. Mason is 10-5, 2-2.

In overtime, with the game tied 66-66, Herb Courtney made a pair of free throws with 1:24 to go to put Delaware ahead for good.

Jordan Carter missed a pair of free throws with 39 seconds to play, and Alphonso Dawson made it 70-66 with a pair of free throws with 35.2 seconds to go. After John Vaughan scored to cut it to two, Marc Egerson made a pair of free throws with 23.6 seconds to play. Egerson added another pair with 7.4 to go to ice the game. Ten of Delaware’s 12 overtime points came on free throws.

Mason was led by Will Thomas’ 20 points and 13 rebounds. Vaughan had 18 points, and Louis Birdsong and Campbell each had 10. Mason shot 50 percent from the field and made its first nine free throws before finishing the game 10 of 13 from the line.

But the turnovers in the second half coupled with 22 personal fouls proved to be Mason’s undoing. Delaware shot 44.2 percent from the field but went to the foul line 34 times, making 22 from the stripe. Egerson led all scorers with 23 points. He also had eight rebounds. Courtney had 19 points and Dawson added 13.

The first four minutes of the second half were all Mason. The Patriots opened the half with a 14-4 run to build a 19-point lead. First Campbell hit a 3-pointer, then Cam Long scored on an uncontested layup after an extended scramble for a loose ball. Campbell followed with a pull-up jumper and Vaughan hit a 3-pointer to make it 43-28. Delaware head coach Monte Ross was assessed a technical foul after the Blue Hens were called for an offensive foul. Vaughan made both free throws. Thomas capped the run with a basket in the paint to make it 47-28.

Delaware responded vigorously, going on a 12-4 run and holding Mason to just two field goals in a six-minute stretch. A pair of Courtney free throws with 8:57 to play made it a nine-point game, erasing all of Mason’s hard work after the half.

Things kept going in Delaware’s favor when Egerson scored off an offensive rebound and Mason turned the ball over on the inbounds. Dawson scored on the ensuing possession to make it 53-48. After another Mason miss, Egerson scored and was fouled, making it 53-51.

Mason finally came up with some points when Birdsong scored inside with 5:48 to go. But Edwin Santiago scored inside for Delaware and Egerson’s turnaround jumper made it 55-55 with 4:35 to play.

After Thomas scored inside, Brian Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 2:45 to go to give Delaware its first lead since 17-16 with 7:20 to play in the first half. Vaughan responded for Mason with a difficult drive and basket to make it 59-58 heading into the final two minutes.

Mason caught a break when Egerson shot an airball, but the Patriots again turned the ball over. Delaware returned the favor though, and Thomas made a pair of free throws for a 61-58 lead. Johnson again stepped up with another 3-pointer, tying the contest with 50.9 seconds to play.

Neither team converted on its final possession, sending the game to overtime.

Neither team could get separation in the game’s first 14 minutes, as Delaware would go up by a basket or two only to have Mason tie the score. The Patriots took their first lead of the night with 6:31 to play when Thomas scored inside and converted a free throw for a 20-17 lead. To that point, Thomas had 11 of Mason’s points. The only scoring over the next three minutes were a Birdsong tip-in, a Vaughan layup and a Birdsong layup as Mason concluded a 13-0 run to go ahead 26-17. During that stretch the Patriots held the Blue Hens scoreless for more than seven minutes.

Mason held a nine-point lead at the break, 33-24. Mason shot .538 in the first half while Delaware shot .455. The Patriots held a 24-14 advantage on points in the paint.

Over the final 10:30 of the first half, Delaware managed just two field goals. Dre Smith was limited due to a sprained ankle, playing just seven minutes.

The Patriots will return to action on Saturday when Mason hosts Northeastern. It will be Armed Forces Day at Patriot Center. Tip time is 2 p.m., and the game will be telecast on Comcast SportsNet.

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