GAME OVER – Mason 68, Tribe 59
The Tribe put up a good fight in this one. This was certainly not the team’s best performance, but its not hard to see how they’d have trouble scoring while dealing with the fatigue of three last-second victories in three days. If they make a few more of their shots and get a few more lucky breaks the way they did in the first three rounds, then this one goes down to the wire. Mason did everything they had to do in order to win this game, and unlike VCU, they didn’t take their lower-seeded opponents lightly. They’ll be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament, that’s for sure.
The magnitude of the Tribe’s making it to this point can’t be understated. For a program with as much of a losing history as it has, this is a giant leap forward. The team owes a lot to its Head Coach and senior class.
Mason 58, Tribe 48 – 1:15 Second Half
It looks like the Tribe just didn’t have enough left in the tank for this one. GMU is firmly in control.
Mason 54, Tribe 47 – 3:05 Second Half
Schneider missed a real opportunity there. It looked like he would have had Sumner for an easy bucket if he’d dished it off there. It’s borderline desperation mode at this point for the Tribe, especially if Campbell hits these free throws.
Mason 50, Tribe 42 – 7:20 Second Half
GMU is really locking down Kisielius, so Shaver should look to draw up some kick-outs for Schneider, Mann and Sumner to try to continue to chip away at this lead. They’re in striking range now, and this might be their best shot to make a run.
Mason 50, Tribe 42 – 8:19 Second Half
The Tribe isn’t going away yet. If they can lock it down on defense they’ve got a shot.
Mason 48, Tribe 37 – 10:21 Second Half
More than anything else right now, the Tribe needs stops on the defensive end. Somehow, Chris Fleming who averages something like one point a game is killing them in the post. On offense, they really need Sumner right now. Kisielius is the only one scoring. Mason’s band is playing “Don’t Stop Believin.'” The message is more appropriate for the Tribe at this point.
Mason 48, Tribe 35 – 11:31 Second Half
The Tribe needs to get something going here, or this one is going to continue to slip away. GMU has six team fouls, so if the Tribe can continue to draw some they’ll be at the line a good amount.
Mason 38, Tribe 28 – 15:56 Second Half
GMU is now on an 11-2 run to start the second half. The Tribe is going to have to weather this and get some quick baskets here or run the risk of letting this one get out of hand. They need to run some isolation plays for Sumner to get him involved. He’s been their most consistent offensive presence throughout this tournament and they aren’t winning this game without getting points from him.
Mason 31, Tribe 26 – 18:30 Second Half
A couple of questionable calls there. On the turnover it looked as though it was clearly knocked out of Mann’s hands by Mason. The foul call on Vaughan before that was pretty unfounded as well. Let’s see what Shaver comes up with out of this timeout to settle his team.
Tribe — 10 of 27 (37 percent)
GMU — 13 of 27 (48.1 percent)
3-pt field goals
Tribe — 4 of 15 (26.7 percent)
GMU — 1 of 8 (12.5 percent)
Tribe — 5
GMU — 7
Tribe — 15
GMU — 18
Tribe — Kisielius 15, Schneider 3
GMU — Birdsong 6, Thomas 6
HALFTIME – Mason 27, Tribe 26
We’ve got a ballgame on our hands. The Tribe has to be feeling good about being only down one at this point, given that nobody besides Kisielius is shooting well. On the other end, there’s no way Mason doesn’t start scoring more in the second, particularly Folarin Campbell, who’s been relatively cold to this point. The Tribe needs to be weary of Birdsong in the post, but it looks like the Tribe’s defense has tightened up as the game has progressed. I’ll tell you what, though, this crowd is electric for both sides. The second half promises to be a good one.
Mason 25, Tribe 24 – 2:57 First Half
Coach Larranaga does not look pleased right now after that traveling call. Kisielius has 13 points already, and the Tribe is doing a much better job on the boards than it was at the beginning of the game. Not having Birdsong in there for GMU certainly helps.
Mason 25, Tribe 24 – 3:21 First Half
The roof’s about ready to blow off this place. Mann needs to keep looking for his shot inside the three-point line. Kisielius is on fire right now.
Mason 19, Tribe 11 – 7:55 First Half
Kisielius is locked in right now. He looks incredibly focused and hasn’t missed a shot yet. Mann just missed a wide-open look from the wing, something that can’t happen if the Tribe is going to win this game. Mason seems to be having ease getting to the bucket at this point. As it has in earlier games this tournament, the Tribe is going to have to weather this early storm and hope it hits shots in the second.
Mason 12, Tribe 7 – 11:43 First Half
Birdsong just picked up his second foul for Mason, which is big considering he’s been doing well so far in the low post. The Tribe is out of sorts offensively. They’re going to need to look for ways to get Kisielius and Sumner matched up one on one vs. their defenders. The Tribe also needs to cut down its turnovers, as it has three already to Mason’s zero.
Mason 8, Tribe 3 – 15:32 First Half
Not a great start for the Tribe. The noise is deafening down here at the end of the court where the Tribe is shooting, right in front of the Mason student section. It’s hard to tell from here if the College’s section is giving them GMU the same treatment at the other end. They should try to look for shots earlier in their possessions to avoid shot clock violations.
The fife and drum corps from Williamsburg just performed the National Anthem. Congressman Tom Davis of Northern Virginia is seated directly across from us. This is a real star-studded affair. Under five minutes until tip off.
The Tribe just ran back into the locker room following its pre-game shoot-around. The College’s pep band has made its first appearance of the tournament tonight. Mason’s band is heckling it from the other end of the floor.
Mason just made its way onto the floor to the loud support of its fans, band and dance team. It’s hard not to feel as though they’re a little more used to this than we are. But that’s because they are.
Several prominent members of the national and regional media have made it out tonight. Brad Nessler and Jimmy Dykes are seated about 10 seats down from us, calling the game for ESPN. Reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post are all on the media list, along with the usual suspects from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Daily Press and Virginia Pilot. John Feinstein is in attendance for the second consecutive night.
The Tribe has re-emerged from the locker room, with the College’s student section raucously cheering them on. The school arranged for a bus to carry some of the 500 students who got tickets this morning to the Coliseum. It’s hard to gauge who is winning the fan support battle at this point given that both schools’ colors are the same.
The intensity level is picking up here in the arena. Chuck Wolf, the College’s PA announcer, is serving as announcer for the evening. Just 20 minutes until opening tip. We’ll be blogging for you at every timeout, live from the Richmond Coliseum for the CAA Tournament Championship game.
— Jeff Dooley