By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) The visiting Eastern Eagles knew that Gordon had good shooters but insisted on playing a zone defense against them. The result was that Gordon built up a 22-point halftime (46-24) lead and Eastern could never get closer than 13 points (72-59) no matter how much they scrambled around in the second half. The final score was, 87-73, but this game was decided in the first half.
The faithful, and that’s what you have when the students are gone, saw Gordon improve its record to 6-1 with tough Bates ahead at the Bennett Center on Thursday night. The visitors, from St.Davids (Pennsylvania), are now 3-5.
The Scots feature plenty of long-range shooters and Eastern gave up plenty of open shots in the first half. It was good to see Gordon’s best three-point shooter (Scott Beebe) regain his touch (7-14) after a two-game slump (6-19) before the Christmas break. Scott hit four threes in the first five minutes as Gordon shot off to a quick 20-9, spread.
A 3-minute drought for the Eagles to close out the first half allowed Gordon to extend a, 38-24, lead to, 46-24. Newcomer Alex Yeats got one of the biggest ovations of the night when he blocked Eastern’s last shot attempt.
The visitors picked up the intensity in the second half and forced a lot of turnovers and did a lot of fouling in the process. “Their pressure forced us into bad decisions in the second half,” added Coach Schauer. However, Gordon’s foul shooting (17-23) in the second half offset their numerous backcourt turnovers and the win was secured.
The undersized Scots lost their tallest starter (Josh Sylvester) late in the first half after he got on the wrong end of a teammate’s elbow. He was unable to play the second half and his future is uncertain. “He was severely missed,” explained coach Schauer. “He is really a glue guy for us.”
The loss was a painful one for the visitors. “I still think we’re the better team and I know we’re a lot taller than they are but they just played better early,” lamented Eastern coach Matt Nadelhoffer afterwards. “It was frustrating to see them hit those threes but if our zone defense had been right they wouldn’t have had so many open threes.”
Gordon coach Mike Schauer considers Matt Nadelhoffer a good friend. “I was one of his coaches when he played at Wheaton and we’ve kept in touch. I knew that they had been using the zone a lot and I teased him that zone might not work that well against us.”
Gordon had four players in double figures: Scott Beebe (28), Joe Witherspoon (23 including 14-15 from the line), Elliot Blackstone (16), and Hayes Murray (15). How often can Gordon expect to win when Josh Sylvester and Scott Allenby are held scoreless?
Brent Voorhees paced the visitors with 13 points.