Continued from page 1

Mason struggled with inbound plays, didn’t hit a 3-pointer until more than 34 minutes into the game and could do little to stop Rhode Island senior guard Jamal Wilson from scoring 38 points – far more than his previous career-best of 14 points.

There was foul trouble – Morrison’s night ended in regulation – and extended droughts against an opponent picked 10th in the 14-team Atlantic 10. But there were also stretches when the Patriots efficiently pitched it inside to Pearson.

He, of course, is Mason’s most-known quantity. Others will need to blossom, and Wright showed he might just be the guy to emerge in the Patriots’ unsettled backcourt.

“I couldn’t wait to have him back,” Pearson said. “He couldn’t come back at a better time. He’s going to be that guy that we need on the perimeter when it’s time to get a big basket. When we have to space the floor, he can take guys off the dribble, he can post up. He’s real versatile.”

Friday just happened to be a reminder of it.