- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Paul Hewitt didn’t think George Mason was ready to play Wednesday.

It was tough to quibble with his assessment.

The Patriots’ 22 turnovers and inability to rebound against an undersized Duquesne team earned them a 75-64 loss, snapping an 18-game home winning streak.

“I don’t think we had bad looks,” forward Mike Morrison said. “Just a lot of shots didn’t go down, and 22 turnovers, that’s a lot of shots we didn’t get to take.”

A lot.

Mason committed turnovers early (11 in the first half) and late (11 more in the second half). It self-destructed for swaths of the evening, got seven turnovers from starting point guard Bryon Allen and slogged its way through a lethargic post-exam test against the persistent Dukes (7-5) – who were not immune to turnovers on a sloppy all-around evening.

They did, though, make fewer mistakes than Mason (7-4), which narrowed a 15-point deficit to 40-39 early in the second half. But Morrison missed a dunk out of a timeout, and Duquesne’s T.J. McConnell hit a fastbreak jumper off the carom.

“We had a missed dunk out there and that’s definitely a tough one,” Morrison said. “I don’t miss too many of those.”

On the next trip, McConnell hit a 3-pointer, and the Patriots never got closer than a possession on one of their most forgettable nights of the year.

“Obviously, I didn’t go over things I needed to go over,” Hewitt said. “I thought we emphasized transition defense. I thought we emphasized just taking care of the ball. We talked about goals we had set for turnovers and transition baskets and we didn’t reach those goals. We didn’t give ourselves a chance to win.”

Five more observations from Mason’s first double-digit loss at home since 2007 …

* Cornelius‘ debut. Senior guard Andre Cornelius made his first appearance of the season after a 10-game suspension following an arrest and subsequent guilty plea to misdemeanor credit card fraud.

The early returns: 11 points, three steals and an assist against one turnover in 24 minutes.

“It felt good to be back,” said Cornelius, who received an ovation when he checked in nearly four minutes into the game.” It felt good to have the fans with me before the game. I feel like I was in a groove a little bit, but I was rushing my shots a little bit. I had to take my time.”

His impact on the rotation was immediate. Cornelius played more minutes than freshman Corey Edwards and as many minutes as Sherrod Wright. Freshman Vaughn Gray had his first did not play of the season.

Story Continues →