Hoo-baby, did we see some performances last night–individuals and team. None were more impressive that Damion Lee’s 20 seconds of swish that provided the margin in Drexel’s win over George Mason.
The Drexel freshman hit three straight threes in 90 seconds for the Dragons, changing a two-point deficit into a five-point lead. The impressive part is two-fold. First, the threes came with less than four minutes to play in a tightly-contested CAA rock fight. That’s stones. Second, the final two bombs came 20 seconds apart, and the last one was a quick-trigger rifle shot six seconds into a Drexel possession.
I’m not afraid to say it brought me off the couch.
Here’s something you shouldn’t lose in Lee’s end-game heroics. He also made four steals, and even more importantly hit two layups in transition in the middle of the first half. Drexel had missed 15 of its first 17 shots and Mason had them on the ropes. Lee kept Drexel close enough to make the end-game matter.
One thing that stood out to me was Mason’s self-inflicted problems in the second half. The Patriots were incredible with ball pressure in the first half–Drexel missing so many shots was more credit to Mason than detriment to Drexel. But in the second half that intensity slowly waned, and Drexel got much better looks as the game progressed.
Also, the Patriots made some nifty “extra passes” early but forced bad shots late. The good news for Paul Hewitt is those are correctible. (Sorry–I must use ” ” around cliches I hate.)
One other item: Mason freshman Eric Copes had seven first half blocks. Seven. I counted four of them that were not garden variety blocks, too. Way impressive. Useless but fun stat: Drexel was 9-28 (32%) from the field in the first half, but 9-21 (42%) on shots not blocked by Eric Copes.
I don’t know this for a fact, but I’d wager your mortgage they’re still partying in Atlanta. Georgia State put together a 48-point second half and blew open a tight game in its win over UNCW.
Philosophical stat: when you have a guy (Eric Buckner) that has as many blocked shots as you have team turnovers (five), your chances of winning are greatly increased. Once again, the Georgia State was very lucky–they played a team on a night that team happened to struggle offensively.
Of note to me: If you weren’t Keith Rendleman, you were part of shooting 13-44 (29.5%). Rendleman was 8-11 from the field in his 23/13 night. I’m saying it now–Rendleman is putting together a player of the year season.
VCU put on an impressive team performance in its win over James Madison. The Dukes trailed 42-41 with about 12 minutes to play, but were outscored 23-4 the rest of the way. The VCU defense held the Dukes without a field goal over the final 7:59, and it was just the third time in 16 games this season that JMU connected on fewer than six three-pointers (4).
Both coaches agreed the cumulative effect of havoc caught up to JMU.
“I do think the press had a cumulative effect tonight, and our style of play was able to wear them down,” said VCU Coach Shaka Smart. “I think they got a little tired.”
Matt Brady agreed.
“It certainly has a cumulative effect on us. We don’t have a deep team. We don’t see a lot of pressure. Even in practices, there isn’t a lot we can do because we’ve only got nine guys.”
Star of the game honors go to VCU freshman Treveon Graham, who tied a career-high with 18 points. However very similar to Drexel’s Damion Lee, Graham was a life-raft when VCU was struggling in a first half sea of bricks and choppiness.
There was a mini-dust up between JMUs Andrey Semenov and VCUs Troy Daniels, and we only point it out to give you today’s reason why we’re Matt Brady fans at CAAHoops–he tells it like he sees it, and there is no sugar-coating.
“Andrey Semenov does get frustrated and I’ve had that conversation with him,” he said. “I think he fouled the VCU player. The VCU player probably retaliated. I know I would. We need Andrey to smarter, so I take responsibility for Andrey, to be honest with you, because he’s not learned that lesson. That’s on me.”
Standings will produce lots of thoughts. They are yours…for now:
Georgia State: 4-1
Wlm & Mary: 2-3