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“I guess the basketball gods were on my side tonight,” Lee said.

On the next possession, Lee’s long try rimmed in and out. No matter. The Dragons already had enough to beat the fading Patriots, whose five-game winning streak ended.

“Just impatient,” Hewitt said. “Mike was scoring every single time. I just thought there were a couple possessions, one in particular right in front of our bench, when we started over-dribbling for no reason and turned the ball over. … [You] get to that point in the game where if you capitalize and execute you’ll probably go to the foul line or get a good shot for your guy who’s been going, who was Mike.”

It was a difficult lesson learned for Mason, which was dragged back into a three-way tie for the conference lead. Five more teams are within a game of the Patriots, who visit struggling James Madison (8-8, 1-4) on Saturday.

Hewitt couldn’t be unhappy with his bench production, Copes’ superb homecoming or Morrison’s steady play. But after three wins in six days last week, Thursday was a sobering reminder the Patriots have plenty to improve upon in the next two months.

“I do like where things are going, but it’s hard to see that from where we’re sitting right now,” Hewitt said.