The Mocs got beat by Radford on Monday night in an 89-78 loss that was disappointing, but was not totally unexpected. Truthfully, the Mocs should have been expected to lose this game. A win here would have been a signal that the Mocs were moving past their preseason expectations and were well on their way to a very successful season.
A loss here is not particularly troubling. The Mocs fought until the very end of this one. After falling behind by 25, the Mocs fought and scrapped to trim the lead to single digits with the ball late. The Mocs could have made things interesting with a couple of more plays.
There was a foul on Z Mason late in the first half followed by a technical foul on the bench that really turned momentum. The Mocs were within seven at the time, and wound up down fifteen at the half. Very disappointing finish to the half and a clear momentum changer. That was the moment that hurt the Mocs.
There was one major flaw that was highlighted in this one. The Mocs have a lack of size. Z Mason spent a lot of time on the bench due to foul trouble. Witht he fouls, the Mocs had trouble with a physical presence. Javonte Green scored 23 points. The Mocs were outrebounded by eleven. Mason, despite plaing just 21 minutes, still lead the team in rebounding, with seven.
The Mocs need to have a more physical presence and an answer when Mason hits the bench. The other flaw that felt a little exposed in this one, even if some of it changed during the second half, is that the Mocs need a pure shooter that they can consistently rely on. Eric Robertson made three threes. In the first half, when the Mocs were desperately trying to hang in the game, the Mocs made just three of eleven threes. Alex Bran made 2 of 2 from downtown. Robertson made 3 of 9, and Martynas Bareika made 2 of 4. No one else made more than one. The Mocs shot 28, with 17 being in the second half as they tried to come back.
The good news is that the Mocs faced a team that applied a lot of pressure and only turned the ball over ten times. They forced seventeen turnovers themselves, showing that they actually have a pretty good grasp on this whole turnover thing. The Mocs did allow Radford, a poor shooting team, to shoot over 50% from the floor and exactly 50% from three point range. That's the bad news of the defense.
The Mocs made 77.4% of their free throws. This is critical. For a team that is going to need to attack the basket when the threes aren't falling, to make a high percentage of free throws as a team is huge. Gee McGhee made 8 of 9 from the stripe, after making 7 of 7 against Covenant. That's 15 of 16 from the stripe for a guy who could spend a lot of time there. He shot just 61% from the free throw line a year ago, so this is a very good development.
Greg Pryor again was impressive. He scored 17 points and had three assists with no turnovers. Let me tell you, that kind of production from the point guard spot is a very welcome development. The true freshman has played well so far.
There is work to be done, but that is far from surprising. There is also hope for this team. There is room for improvement and the Mocs can get there. They showed heart and hustle late in the game and kept on fighting until the very end. The Mocs have a home game against Montreat on Saturday before a very important home date with Kennesaw State next Tuesday. That game will teach us a lot more about these Mocs.