Men’s Basketball Advances to CAA Title Game

Posted: March 8, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Cam Long was named third-team All-CAA this season and if anything, he may not have gotten enough respect. The sophomore point guard showed that he belongs among the Colonial Athletic Association’s elite when he drained three 3-pointers in the final 10 minutes on Sunday as Mason finished with a 11-3 run to beat Towson, 56-48, and advance to the CAA Championship Game.

The victory gave the Patriots their third-straight berth in the conference title game. Second-seeded Mason will face top-seeded VCU, the team that beat Mason in the 2007 and 2004 title games.

Tip time is 7 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN2.

The Patriots (22-9) needed all of Long’s 14 points, six rebounds and five assists as their game against 11th-seeded Towson came down to the wire.

The Tigers were the highest seed to ever advance to the CAA semifinals.

Darryl Monroe had 15 points and seven rebounds, Dre Smith had 13 points and Louis Birdsong had six points and nine rebounds.

The first half saw Mason take small leads only for Towson to rally and either tie the game or take the lead. Mason went up 11-4 but Towson made it a 13-13 game.

Next the Patriots went up 22-16, but the Tigers stormed back to take a 24-22 lead. Mason closed the half on a 7-2 run capped by Smith’s 3-pointer from 25-feet out at the buzzer.

Towson shot better from the field and free throw line in the first half, but Mason had a 24-12 rebounding edge, including a 9-0 advantage on the offensive glass. Those extra chances, coupled with better shooting from behind the arc, allowed the Patriots the three-point lead at the break.

The second half saw Mason’s shooting woes continue as the Patriots made just three of their first 15 shots while Towson was a much better seven of 13 from the field. The Tigers were able to go ahead 42-36 as Mason failed to score for nearly five minutes.

Things changed quickly when Long took over as he hit a pair of three-pointers to cap an 8-1 run that gave Mason a 45-43 lead with seven minutes to play.

After the Tigers tied the score at 45-45, Smith made a pair of acrobatic layups to put the Patriots ahead, 49-45. But Thornton answered with a three-pointer from the corner to cut the Mason lead to one.

The score stayed that way for more than two minutes until Long found Birdsong underneath for a layup and a 51-48 lead. Long iced the game with a deep three-pointer as the shot clock expired to put the Patriots ahead 54-48 with 30 seconds to go.

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