Lady Patriots open three-game home stand with 60-51 loss to Northeastern Huskies

Senior guard Rahneeka Saunders (left) and Amber Easter trap a Huskies' player in Tuesday night's game. (Photo by John Irwin.)
Senior guard Rahneeka Saunders (left) and Amber Easter trap a Huskies' player in Tuesday night's game. (Photo by John Irwin.)

It was a frigid night outside and inside the Patriot Center on Tuesday night, as the Patriots went cold and fell to the Northeastern University Huskies, 60-51.

The Patriots (6-10,1-4) were off to a blistering start, capitalizing on early jumpers thanks to weaknesses in the Huskies 2-3 zone. Senior guard Rahneeka Saunders, who finished with 17 points and five assists, led Mason to a 15-8 lead after six minutes of play.

However, the Huskies (11-6, 4-2) quickly used their size advantage down low and fought back to tie the game just three minutes later.

From then on out, it was a back-and-forth scoring match, giving Mason a 33-30 lead at the half.

Turnovers and poor execution on the offensive and defensive end in the second half were main contributors to the Patriots' tenth loss of the season.

"We have to do a better job on the offensive side of the ball," said Mason coach Jeri Porter. "We just got to execute better. I just don’t think we made the offensive boards work for us.”

The Patriots had 16 offensive rebounds, but only 9 second chance points against the Huskies.

“We’ve got to find ways to convert those offensive rebounds into points,” Porter continued.

 Mason played solid defense for most of the game, forcing 18 turnovers, with five steals coming from Saunders alone. The Patriots scored 17 points off turnovers, but shot themselves in the foot by giving up the ball even more than Northeastern.

Plain and simple, Coach Porter talked about the struggles the women faced on offense.

“Twenty turnovers are obviously way too many. We need to do a better job taking care of the basketball. We’re a team that does a really good job setting people up, getting our feet set, and knocking open shots down. We just didn’t do that in the second half.”

The Huskies played aggressive defense in the second half that seemed to confuse the Patriots on offense. Coach Porter and the team just simply couldn’t find an answer to the Huskies’ zone-trap.

“They trapped us out on the wings, and I don’t think we adjusted well to that. That’s what hurt us in the second half, was us trying to get the same looks that we did in the first half,” Porter said.

The Patriots next game will be at home against James Madison on Thursday night. Sitting in third place at 4-1 in the conference, Porter also talked about what the team will need to do to get a win against their in-state rival.

“JMU is a good defensive team, just like Northeastern. We’re just going to have to be better at executing and taking care of the basketball,” Porter answered.

The game against James Madison will be the second of a three-game home stand for Mason, who then welcomes Georgia State to the Patriot Center on Sunday.