Mason Comets rack up another win in 'one of the best games we've ever played'

KETTERING, Ohio -- Mason girls' basketball coach Rob Matula didn't mince words about his team's effort Wednesday in the regional semifinals.

"That was the most stellar defensive game that I've ever coached in my 30 years," Matula said.

Mason defeated Mount Notre Dame 53-32 in a Division I regional semifinal at Trent Arena. The Comets (23-3) held MND (22-5) to a season-low in points.

"You guys know me well enough to know I am going to give credit where credit is due," Matula told the media afterward. "That's a darn good team (in MND). That's a returning state champion. I'd like to know, how many easy shots did they have? Again, that's nothing against them. I just thought we were phenomenal defensively."

Mason is in the regional tournament for a third consecutive season and sixth time overall.

The Comets were led by senior forward Sammie Puisis, who had a game-high 17 points including three 3-pointers. Junior guard Sade Tucker had 15 points including three 3-pointers.

MND, the reigning Division I state champion, defeated Mason in the 2017 regional final. That was in the back of the minds of the Comets Wednesday night.

"It was definitely one of the best games we've ever played," Puisis said. "Before the game we were all focused and ready to go. We wanted revenge from last year, and we came and we took over the game and played it our way."

The Comets advance to play Lakota West (25-2) in the regional final at 7 p.m. Saturday. Lakota West defeated Walnut Hills 60-31 in the night's first semifinal.

Lakota West and Mason -- Greater Miami Conference co-champions the past two seasons -- split the regular-season series. Most recently, Mason defeated visiting Lakota West 61-54 without Puisis, a Florida State verbal commit who was ill at the time.

Mason's defense was very significant Wednesday night, and Matula would like to see the same type of effort Saturday.

Mount Notre Dame (22-5) made 10 shots on Wednesday.

"They just beat us to the punch -- that was it," MND coach Scott Rogers said. "…They were relentless. I give them a lot of credit."

The Cougars were led by freshman guard Laila Phelia who had eight points. Sophomore guard Makira Cook had seven points.

"My message to them was, 'You have accomplished so much the past four years,'" Rogers said. "We've been here three times with this group and a state championship. Any one of four teams in this tournament could've won it from Cincinnati."

Wednesday marked the 13th time MND has been in the regional tournament since the 1986-87 season, according to Athletic Director Mark Schenkel. It was the 10th trip to the regional tournament since the 2002-03 season.