By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) Salem State came to the Bennett Center intent on wearing down the Fighting Scots and succeeded, 82-69, on Tuesday evening before a very enthusiastic home gathering. The loss snapped Gordon’s four-game winning streak.
The final score is no in way indicative of how this one went because it was a 4-point game (73-69) with three minutes left. At this point an Allen Reid trey seemed to take the heart out of the Scots. Salem State scored the last seven points of the game from the foul line to seal the win.
The Vikings pressed full court from beginning to end. “We hoped to get them running because they’re not as deep as we are at the guard position,” explain Salem State coach Brian Meehan afterwards. “We knew that (Scott) Beebe was a great shooter and we hoped to give him and their other shooters tired legs down the stretch, and it worked. Gordon didn’t turn the ball over late in the game or take bad shots, their shots just weren’t falling.”
The Scots were an uncharacteristic 2-for-13 from three-point land in the second half. And when Scott Beebe is 3-for-9 for the game from out there Gordon is in trouble. “Anytime we shoot 7 for 25 as a team from the 3-point area and give up 16 offensive rebounds we won’t beat anybody,” lamented Gordon coach Mike Schauer after the game. But by playing hard and getting a lift from a raucous home crowd the Scots made a game of it.
“They are a really good team and Mike is obviously doing a nice job coaching,” added Meehan. “It was great basketball to watch. It was physical but it was clean. Kids were helping each other up and I like that.”
“We put in the effort but our lack of depth was exposed,” said Schauer. “We had four players in double figures and they had six. We will have to find more scoring from somewhere to be successful.”
The visitors built up a 25-19 edge 12 minutes into the first half but a late surge sparked by a Ryan Smith 3-pointer sent the home team off a halftime with a promising, 40-36, advantage.
Gordon hung onto the lead (46-44) in the first five minutes of the second half but Salem State rolled off ten straight, keyed by two treys from Ray Williams, to surge ahead, 54-46, with 12 minutes left. A good time to quit but these are the “fighting” Scots and using an assortment of shots, including an Alex Yeats tip-in, they evened the score at 64 with six minutes to go. But fatigue caught up to Gordon the rest of the way. “We just ran out of answers on offense,” added coach Schauer.
Ray Williams (18) and Tom Sullivan (17) paced the winners. Bobby Michalczyk (12 rebounds/10 points) contributed a double/double.
Scott Beebe topped the home team with 19 points but had little breathing room all night thanks to a smothering Viking defense. Josh Sylvester added 11 rebounds and 14 points for a double/double
The Scots next opponent is Mass College of Liberal Arts on Thursday evening at 7 at home. MCLA comes in winless thus far but they did defeat Gordon at North Adams last season. This will be the last game before the winter break.