Pat Higgins | Sports Editor
When you have a fever, general consensus says the only cure is more cowbell.
In three games against Richmond, George Mason and Davison, junior guard Micah Mason shot only 33 percent from the field and just 6-of-20 from 3-point range for 24 points. When a shooter like Mason hits a minor slump like he did in the Dukes’ previous three games, the only cure is to keep shooting.
Shooting and scoring is what Mason did early and often in the Red & Blue’s 78-62 win over the visiting George Washington Colonials, finishing with a career-high 24 points. He finished 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc and 9-of-15 from field goal range.
“I just have to stay confident, get in the gym and see the ball go in,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been doing late at night.”
Without suspended junior guard Jordan Stevens, who is usually the first guard off the bench for the Dukes, Mason and junior guard Derrick Colter combined for 42 points in 66 minutes.
While underclassmen Darius Lewis, L.G. Gill and Jordan Robinson played their part on the glass, Colter and Mason provided the sparks the Dukes needed to preserve a double-digit second half lead and secure the win.
For coach Jim Ferry, quantity is what leads to quality in terms of shooting. Quite simply, the more shots Mason takes, the more shots he will make, regardless of the way he’s played in prior games.
“I don’t care if Micah misses his first shot, his second shot or third shot,” he said. “What I care about is that Micah needs to take 15 shots. He knows how to play the game right away. The kid’s a phenomenal shooter. [He’s] the best I’ve ever seen. I’m still fine with Micah shooting 44 percent if he’s taking 15 shots.”
For a guy who led the NCAA in 3-point percentage a season ago, sometimes it’s tough to find a shot when every opponent seeks to limit the number of uncontested looks he finds. So when his jumper starts falling early, it becomes easier to use the pump fake, penetrate and either find a bucket in the key or dish it to a big man down low. He scored 24 points, but only 12 came from beyond the arc.
“He’s mixing it up because everyone’s playing him so hard on the perimeter,” Ferry said. “He has that [the ability to penetrate] in his arsenal. He just sometimes settles.”
Moving forward, the Dukes will need Mason to produce at the same level of efficiency as he did against George Washington, who entered the game in third place in the Atlantic 10 with a 7-3 conference record.
If the Dukes are to continue in their winning ways, it will be in part because Mason continues to find his looks and convert his shots in the final eight games of conference play.