"We knew the effort was going to be there," he said. "I knew we would battle. We gave it a great effort; we just didn't shoot the ball well enough."
Mason contributed his team's poor shooting to Eastern's defense, which limited Centre to just seven field goals in both halves and forced Centre into 24 turnovers, including 16 in the opening half.
"We didn't have our best shooting night and you have to credit Eastern Kentucky - we just couldn't hit the basket," Mason said.
Centre connected on just two of their first 12 field-goal attempts and had seven turnovers on their first 19 possessions, but overcame an early 7-2 deficit and took a 14-12 lead on Jordan Sucher's 3-pointer from the right side.
However, Eastern (2-3) regained the lead on back-to-back buckets by Jon Bentley that sparked a 14-6 run in the final 2:14 of the first half that gave it a 28-21 advantage at the break.
Overall, Centre shot just 32 percent in the opening half and committed 16 turnovers. Eastern didn't fare much better, connecting on 10-of-29 shots for 34 percent.
The shooting woes continued for Mason's troops in the second half as Centre missed its first five shots as Eastern scored seven unanswered points and used a 10-2 run to open the second half to take a 38-23 lead with 13:30 remaining.
"We were battling them and they were battling us," Mason said. "I thought their size and their athleticism really affected our shots. We weren't intimidated, but we knew that they were around. A lot of times when we went up for a shot, we were thinking, 'Where is my defender?' instead of focusing on the rim."
Centre scored six straight following Eastern's run and pulled to within eight at 39-31 with 11:36 left, but could get no closer.
Rob King scored eight of Centre's first 10 points and tied teammate Jason Atwell for team-high scoring honors with 11 points.
Jon Bentley came off the bench to lead Eastern with 14 points, while Michael Haney added 10.
Eastern coach Travis Ford had nothing but praise for his Division III opponent following the contest.
"We didn't play particularly well, but a lot of that had to do with how Centre played. They came after us hard."