St. Bonaventure defeats Mason men's basketball, 85-73

Mason men's basketball takes on Saint Louis on Wednesday at 7 p.m. (photo by John Irwin).
Mason men's basketball takes on Saint Louis on Wednesday at 7 p.m. (photo by John Irwin).

Despite a large alumni contingent at the Patriot Center on Saturday night to watch Mason play its first Homecoming game as a member of the Atlantic 10, the Patriots failed to feed off of the raucous crowd, falling to St. Bonaventure’s 85-73 in their first matchup as conference foes.

Mason, now 9-16 on the campaign, is 2-9 in A-10 play and are in a three-way tie for last place alongside Rhode Island and Fordham. Both teams, however, hold tie breakers over Mason with head-to-head victories.

Coming off an upset over the University of Massachusetts in which they scored a season-high 91 points, Mason struggled against the Bonnies’ zone defense early.

Missing seven of their first eight shots, the Patriots failed to establish an inside presence and settled for contested jump shots. St. Bonaventure’s, however, was equally bad from the field early as they missed four of their first five shots.

A key to Mason’s two-game winning streak before Saturday’s loss was the production from the big men, most notably starters Erik Copes and Jalen Jenkins. Together, the duo combined for 34 points and 28 rebounds. But, neither was a factor in Mason’s loss to St. Bonaventure’s.

Jenkins missed his first two shots of the evening, both inside the paint, and Copes missed his only shot attempt with 14:28 left in the first half.

Picking up the slack was Bryon Allen and Sherrod Wright.

The twosome nailed 10 of their combined 17 first half attempts for 20 points and the last nine points before halftime.


Wright also succeeded on the defensive side, as he frustrated St. Bonaventure’s leading score Matthew Wright (15.3 PPG) as the senior drained only one of his seven first half field goal attempts.

Going into halftime, Mason trailed by only four despite their shooting shortcomings.

But just like their last two home games against Dayton and George Washington, Mason came out flat in the second half while the opposition, conversely, settled into a groove.

For St. Bonaventure’s it was from the charity stripe after shooting fouls and the customary late game fouling method.

Attempting 28 second half free throws, Mason allowed St. Bonaventure’s to cushion it’s lead after Allen’s three pointer at the 12:04 mark of the second half gave Mason a 46-44 lead, their last of the game. Wright led the way as he made 12 of his 13 attempts second half free throw attempts.

Mason head coach Paul Hewitt was frank after the game in that his excellence from the line was what sprung the Bonnies into the driver’s seat. 

“He [almost] made all of his free throws when we thought maybe we could get a break with a missed free throw here or there,” Hewitt explained in his postgame press conference. “He played really, really well.”

Allen and Wright each scored at least 20 in the same game for the second time this season. The first came in January’s bitter defeat to the University of Massachusetts.

Contrariwise to the seniors’ output, freshman Jenkins and Marquise Moore combined for zero made field goals and six turnovers in 51 minutes of play.

Mason returns to action this Wednesday to host No. 12 St. Louis University (23-2; 10-0 in A-10) for the backend of their home-and-home series this season with Wright only seven points (1,481) away from tying Final Four legend Lamar Butler for 13th most points scored in Mason history.

On Feb 1., the Patriots gave the Billikens their biggest conference test to date, as the game went to overtime before St. Louis pulled away for an 87-81 victory. 

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