Patriots Eliminated in Quarterfinals

March 10, 2012   ·   1 Comments

by Tyler Mauro

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — As Amber Easter walked off the court she felt the hand of a stranger on her back.

It was James Madison coach Kenny Brooks.  What he said we may never know, but the reasoning behind his comforting act was warranted.

Plagued by turnovers all night Mason lost in the quarterfinals to second seeded JMU by a final score of 64-54 at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.  Easter who finished with 11 points in the game, committed a team high 7 turnovers.

“We didn’t do everything right,” said coach Jeri Porter. “We turned the ball over and missed a lot of shots.”

With less than six minutes to play in the second half JMU went on a 10-0 run to put the game away for good. Senior guard Taleia Moton would try to spark a Mason run, but her valiant effort was too late.

“They made plays and we didn’t,” Porter said. “There isn’t really a one thing that gave them the advantage in the last few minutes of the game.”

Moton finished the game with 22 points, making her the fastest player in Patriots history to reach the 1,000 point mark – a historic night for the guard lost in a moment of disappointment.

The first half was a battle full of ties and lead changes.

After trailing for the first 15 minutes of play, Mason took the lead as Moton split the defenders for a layup.  JMU would counter to tie the score at 22 on a Crystal Ross jumper.

But the Patriots ended the half from the line connecting on multiple foul shots to lead by four.

This was the first time since 2009 that Mason held a halftime lead over the Dukes and, according to Porter, it is the little things that are worth building on.

“We took a step forward this year,” Porter said. “Hopefully it will create a foundation for next season.”

JMU opened the second half on a 16-5 run using stout zone defense to pressure Mason into sloppy play.  The Patriots, who had 12 points in the paint during the first half, were forced to shoot jumpers because of the defensive change.

“They came out in a zone,” assistant coach Jana Ashley said. “We stopped penetrating like we were in the first half.  It changed our game.”

A Taleia Moton 3-pointer would cut the lead to four with just under seven minutes to play.

But JMU continued their defensive onslaught, as a Tarik Hislop steal led to an offensive break out. Hislop finished the game with six steals to pace the Dukes’ defensive front.

“I had hope we could win the basketball game,” Brooks said. “I said to Tarik, ‘It starts with you.’”

It started and ended with Hislop, who hit four straight shots from the line to send Mason packing.

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Readers Comments (1)

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