George Mason and Loyola --- the two most credible local teams from one-bid leagues in the Baltimore/Washington corridor --- went down in difficult fashion Thursday. Time to get to the rewind ...
Mount St. Mary's
The Mountaineers made the turn in Northeast Conference play at 3-6, which doesn't sound great and really isn't overly impressive.
But two things happened as a result of a 77-73 defeat of Quinnipiac at Knott Arena. One, the Mount (8-12) matched its win total from last year. Two, it drew closer to eighth place in the 12-team league, which is significant because only the top eight make the league tournament.
Quinnipiac occupies the eighth slot, and the Mount sits a game back with the tiebreaker. The Mountaineers held a team to less than 50 percent shooting for only the fourth time all season (and second time in three games), improving to 3-1 in those games. If the defense is making incremental progress, it at least gives the Mount a chance to make a push in the second half of league play.
This much is certain: Something isn't quite right with the Greyhounds.
They were off from the start Sunday against Iona, two days after grinding out a road win at Manhattan. Dylon Cormier was coming off a case of food poisoning and the Gaels are probably the Metro Atlantic's most talented team. Isolated, it wasn't a huge deal.
And really, it isn't stunning that Loyola (15-8, 7-4) lost at Canisius on Thursday. It's how they lost --- a 91-79 defeat with no sign of the defense the Greyhounds have come to rely upon.
Now, the Greyhounds head to conference leader Niagara on Saturday and sit in greater danger of drifting back to the middle of the MAAC pack. It isn't a good time for the defending league champs. Not at all.
NUMBER OF NOTE
Conference losses for George Mason after a 58-54 loss to Drexel, matching the Patriots' total from all of last season. Mason is 12-9 overall and 5-4 in the conference and heads to James Madison (Saturday) and Old Dominion (Monday) as part of a three-games-in-five-days stretch.
James Madison locked down on Hofstra in the second half, securing a 62-41 victory in Harrisonburg to improve to 13-10 overall. At 7-3 in the CAA, the Dukes are now a game up on Delaware (5-3), Towson (6-4) and Georgia State (6-4).
--- Patrick Stevens