Mason withstands Houston's OT comeback to advance to the CBI Tournament semifinals
Amid the announcement of Mason's move to the Atlantic 10, the men's basketball team had business of their own to take care of in the quarterfinals of the CBI Tournament against the University of Houston.
In a thrilling overtime finish at the Patriot Center Monday night, the Patriots advanced to the semifinals, defeating the Cougars, 88-84. Junior guard Sherrod Wright led all scorers with 29 points on 7-of-12 shooting and 4-of-6 from three-point range.
The game had a similar pace to one's over the past season, most recently against Northeastern in the CAA Tournament semifinals. Mason came out of the gates on a 17-0 run in the first three minutes of play, hitting on 8-of-10 in that span. However, just as easily as the Patriots had grabbed the early lead, they just as easily allowed the Cougars to claw back in the game, cutting the lead to seven at the half.
Mason led by as many as 19 points in the first half and managed to maintain that lead until 1:24 remaining in the second half. Holding leads and second-half play has been a weakness for this season's Patriots team. Despite giving Houston the opportunity to force overtime, Mason coach Paul Hewitt was pleased with his team's performance.
"The purpose of this event for us is to get games and tournament-type situations," said Hewitt. "It does expose some things we need to work on this summer but this is nothing but a positive for us."
TaShawn Thomas finished with 24 points and 17 rebounds for the Cougars on 11-of-17 shooting and Joseph Young accompanied him, tallying 21 points in the losing effort.
Wright, who has been the Patriot's leader all season long, scored five of Mason's 11 points in the overtime period and took advantage of every chance to score that he was offered.
"[The CBI Tournament] is a great opportunity for the whole team to gather up, play hard and get the kinks out," Wright said. "We didn't have the season we wanted but it's a chance for us to come at here and win this tournament and go into the next season with a fresh start."
Mason advances to the tournament semifinals held on Wednesday night at against Western Michigan at the Patriot Center. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.