It Begins

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The 2015 Atlantic 10 Tournament Is Here

Fordham 71 – George Mason 65

Earlier this week, Fordham’s Eric Paschall was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year.  But with Paschall sidelined with a lingering high ankle sprain, Wednesday night was a showcase for fellow All-Rookie and Fordham teammate, Christian Sengfelder.

The native German has been supplying the Rams with significant production all season (11PPG, 7.2RPG), and took the opportunity of a big stage to post a career high 27 points, and hauled in 5 rebounds against George Mason.  He missed just three shots all night, going 10-13, including 3-5 on 3PA, and 4-4 on FTA.  Sengfelder amassed a 154 offensive rating in nearly 40 minutes of play.  In short, he was money.

Despite the offensive blitzkrieg from Sengfelder, the Rams had to be tough down the stretch as George Mason remained pesky until the final minute of the game.  Implementing full court pressure that forced untimely turnovers from Fordham, the Patriots kept within striking distance on some late three pointers from Patrick Holloway.

Shevon Thompson, Mason’s 6’11”  All-Conference Third Team big man was held to just 4 points.  Thompson led the Patriots with 19 points the last time these two teams met.

Marquise Moore led George Mason with 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Up next for Fordham will be a date with surprising number five seed, VCU on Thursday at 2:30 in a game that will be televised on NBC Sports Network.

Duquesne 61 – Saint Louis 55

Saint Louis had just one A-10 victory in regulation this season.  Against, you guessed it, Duquesne.  That glorious night at Chaifetz, the Billikens hoisted 26 3PA and converted on 42.3%, in addition to putting home 48.3% of their 2PA.

At halftime Wednesday night, the three point numbers for Saint Louis provided a sense of belief that perhaps once again they had the answer to the Dukes’ 2-3 zone.  6-14 3PA, 42.9 3P% – basically right where they needed to be.

Except it wasn’t.  The problem wasn’t the three point shooting – the Billikens finished at an average 34.5 3P% – the problem was nearly every single other attempt at the basket.  Just six trips to the free throw line (3-6), and on 40 two point efforts, just 11 found the bottom of the net, good for a 27.5% conversion rate on 2PA.  Saint Louis finished with a 37.7 eFG%.  The national average is 49.1%.

In fact, Duquesne blocked more shot attempts (12) than Saint Louis made two pointers (11).  The twelve blocks for Duquesne ties an A-10 Tournament record.  Darius Lewis had 7 of the 12 rejections for the Dukes.

And yet, this game, too, came down to the final moments as Duquesne managed to turn the ball over an astonishing 18 times.  During A-10 play, the Dukes ranked 4th in offensive TO rate at 17.2%.

However, Duquesne had the two best players on the court Wednesday night in Micah Mason and Derrick Colter.  Despite 7 TOs, Jeremiah Jones was a bright spot for the Dukes as well, chipping in 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists.

Mason, specifically, was the difference on the offensive end finishing with 19 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals.  A couple of things stood out about Mason.  Early in the first half when the game lacked a real flow (not that there ever was one), and Duquesne couldn’t get the 3PA to drop, Mason asserted himself in other ways, at one point fueling a 10-0 run.

Particularly memorable was a steal on the wing in a half court defensive possession.  The steal itself wouldn’t blow your hair back.  However, Colter, at the top of the key, diagnosed the ensuing takeaway and immediately broke out for a fastbreak.  Truthfully, he probably left too soon.  By the time Mason had wrangled the ball away, Colter had all but outrun his usefulness for the break.

But Mason, turning over his left shoulder with the ball, and regaining his balance, seamlessly roped a low-to-high, one-handed pass that hit Colter perfectly for an easy layup on the other end.

Best part?  That one-handed pass was with his off hand.

Tomorrow Duquesne will face George Washington, the sixth seed, at 9:00 pm, in a game on NBC Sports Network.

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Jeff Horne is a Richmond native and basketball lover. You can follow him on Twitter, @jeffreyphorne.

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