FOXBORO, Mass. – Mansfield saw its 13-point fourth quarter shrink to just three inside the final minute, but senior Ryan Otto made a huge bucket to help the Hornets hold on for a 50-43 win over Foxboro.
Mansfield senior John McCoy drained a contested three with 6:39 to play to put the Hornets comfortably ahead 44-31, but then Foxboro orchestrated an impressive comeback.
Foxboro sophomore Brandon Borde played a vital role in the run, scoring six of his career-high 14 points and assisting on a bucket to Matt Rongione as Foxboro rattled off eight straight points.
Mansfield junior Damani Scott ended the Hornets’ drought with 1:53 to play, driving to the basket for two and a 46-39 lead. But a bucket from Teddy Maher, and then a steal and two free throws from Joe Morrison (14 points, nine rebounds, five assists, three steals) suddenly made it a one-possession game with 55 seconds to play.
But on the ensuing possession, Mansfield had its biggest answer of the game. With the shot clock about to tick into single digits, Otto dished the ball to junior Tommy Dooling in the corner, but he quickly returned the ball to Otto who drained the three — his first made field goal of the game — to make it 49-43 with 35 seconds to play.
The Hornets came up with a defensive stop, Scott hit a free throw to extend the lead to seven and Mansfield picked up its first win of the season.
“I think we’re trying to find our identity,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I don’t think its a lack of ability as much as its a lack of identity. We had a lot of empty possessions because of not doing things the way we do it. To Foxboro’s credit, they did a tremendous job defensively at taking away some things, and they got some opportunities they capitalized on. Obviously, Morrison and Borde offensively kept them relatively close. I thought Foxboro did a nice job.
“I thought we were better defensively in the second half, and we rebounded the ball much better. I think going forward we’ll be okay, we just to clean up some things and use this as a learning experience. It’s always good to get out one with a win when you didn’t play as well as you liked – and that’s not to take anything away from Foxboro.”
It was the second big lead that Foxboro erased. Mansfield got off to a strong start, racing out to a 10-2 lead over the first four minutes of play. But over the final four minutes of the opening stanza, Foxboro rallied with an 11-3 run to tie the game.
“I thought our guys showed a lot of fight and a lot of heart, in both halves,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “We got down 13-4 and we could have gone into a shell and we didn’t. We stayed together and got back into and the same thing in the fourth quarter. We could have quit both times and both times we stayed together and got back into it, so that was encouraging.
“We made a couple of defensive adjustments in the first quarter to get back into it. And then in the second half comeback, it was more offensive adjustments. We were having a hard time getting shots around the rim so we tried to open the court up a little bit more to give Brandon some room to attack and he was able to get downhill and make some good things happen, he had some baskets, got fouled, and was able to create for some of the other guys.”
Foxboro took its first lead of the game on a three-pointer from Devin Hassett, up 18-15, with 5:05 to play in the first half, but Mansfield close the half with a 13-5 run. John McCoy sandwiched a bucket and a three-point play around a bucket down low from Sam Hyland. Dooling hit his third three of the game and Hyland completed a traditional three-point play in the final seconds to take a 28-23 lead into halftime.
McCoy tied a career-high with 17 points to lead the way for the Hornets, also pulling down six boards.
“He’s trying to get his legs back under him,” Vaughan said of McCoy. “He missed a week of practice. He probably logged more minutes than I thought we would play. We were happy with his production, I think that’s something he’s going to be doing all year, scoring inside out. Hopefully, as the year goes on the physical play plays more to our advantage. I thought there were a few times when he went to the rim there was some contact. If he gets those calls then he’s a much different player because he becomes almost undefendable.”
Mansfield’s first double-digit lead came midway through the third quarter when McCoy got to the rim for two and a 35-25 lead. Foxboro quickly cut it back to single digits on a bucket from Borde on an assist from Morrison down low but Khristian Conner drove hard to the basket to restore the 10-point lead on Mansfield’s ensuing possession.
“Foxboro isn’t going to come in undercoached, they are going to have some sort of identity and play hard,” Vaughan said. “They have two players on the floor that can score. I knew they probably wouldn’t get into the 50’s or 60’s so I knew we had to get there. I knew it’d be a rock fight. Jon does a great job getting his guys ready. But we’re glad to get out of here with a win.”
The Hornets kept that lead until the final seconds of the quarter when Foxboro sophomore Ryan Hughes converted a traditional three-point play off an offensive rebound to make it 39-31.
“Give credit to Mansfield,” Gibbs said. “Everyone knows about Mansfield’s offensive ability and their shooting ability but I don’t think they get enough credit for their defense. They are always one of the best defensive teams around. They made it really difficult for us to score, especially coming out of the locker room in the second half.”
Scott (five rebounds, two assists) and Dooling each finished with nine points for the Hornets while Hyland added six points and seven boards.
Foxboro hits the road for the first time, traveling to take on King Philip (1-0, 1-0) at the same time.