Mason fights back against Fairfield, falls just short with 68-66 loss in thrilling finish
By Harper Stull
On Friday, December 16, the Mason Comets fell to the Fairfield Indians in a Greater Miami Conference battle 68-66 that went all the way down to the buzzer.
Heading into the game, the Indians were ranked first in the conference with a 6-0 record while the Comets were sixth at 4-2.
The Comets overcame a double-digit halftime deficit and had a chance to win with 3.5 seconds remaining in the game. Matt Debrosse, who led the team with 18 points on the night, hit three foul shots after a technical foul from Fairfield to narrow the lead to 68-66. The Comets had possession on an inbounds and head coach Adam Toohey drew up a play to get Debrosse, who had just knocked down three free throws, the last shot. The play was stifled by Fairfield’s defense that had switched to a tight man-on-man scheme. Debrosse said that the team had fought back to be in a position to win, but was unable to get the shot they wanted in the final seconds.
“Coach told me to shoot it, it had been my night,” Debrosse said. “I was visualizing that I was going to hit it if I got the chance. They had switched up their defense and it just wasn’t available for the shot opportunity.”
Fairfield started the game with a quick layup after the tip from Deshawne Crim, the GMC’s second-leading scorer, and two made free throws the next possession. Mason seniors Jack Ullom and Ben Golan aided the Comets in getting into the rhythm of the game. Ullom responded to the Indian’s 4-0 scoring run with a seven-foot floater followed by a steal and layup by Golan to tie the game at 4-4. After giving up seven more points, Mason’s Braden Greer knocked down a three-pointer. Fairfield’s Kameron Sanders quickly answered with a three-point of his own. Debrosse started his strong scoring night with a deep three as well as another two for Greer. Ray Coney countered with four points of his own before Jake Hanley ended the quarter with two made free throws. The Indians led the Comets 20-14 as the first quarter concluded.
Mason kicked off the second quarter with a three-pointer from Alex Koelling followed by a steal from Debrosse. An offensive foul on Gabe Clemmons added to the Comets’ momentum. Fairfield went on a scoring run despite the efforts made by the Comets. They fell to a 12-point deficit with only two minutes left in the first half with Ullom ending it with another floater. Fairfield went into halftime with a 37-23 lead over the comets.
In the third quarter, the Comets outscored the Indians 11-8 due to a balanced offensive attack. Golan closed out the quarter with a deep buzzer-beater three-pointer to close the deficit to 43-50 and energize the Comet bench. As the Comets began to close in on the Indians in the third quarter, Toohey said that the players took advantage of an early-season opportunity to compete in a tight game with a talented team.
“The second half, we talk about, is the time to come and compete,” Toohey said, ”We had a chance to win it and we need to play in close game situations.”
Debrosse, currently eight in the GMC in points per game with 13.9, was a consistent force for the Comets in the fourth quarter. He had a steal, a deep three and three clutch free throws in crunch-time to close the gap to 68-66. He finished with a team-leading 18 points. Debrosse said the game’s close finish can serve as a lesson to the team that they are capable of beating anyone if they can play a full four quarters of basketball at their best level.
“I definitely learned a lot,” Debrosse said, ”It’s about coming out and bringing the fire and intention in the second half when it’s a close game.”
Photo by Lily Haller