By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) – A horrible first half doomed the Scots to defeat versus the talented Bates Bobcats, 78-74, at the Bennett Center on Thursday night despite a spirited second half comeback.
“We lost this game in the first half,” explained Gordon coach Mike Schauer afterwards. “We didn’t even look like ourselves. We were rushing shots and playing pretty selfishly.”
Bates, now 8-1, had the swagger of a successful team in the first half. They passed for open shots and hounded the Gordon shooters on defense. “Bates is a quality opponent and it seemed to take a while before we realized it,” added coach Schauer.
The visitors grabbed the lead for good when they broke a 13-13 tie on Sean Cahill’s 3-pointer at the 11-minute mark. Bates was 5 for 9 on threes in the first half. Gordon hung around, only down 26-23 with 4 minutes left, before Jon Furbush canned two 3’s in a row to boost the Bobcat lead to 32-23. A 5-point run at the end of the half put Bates in command, 40-28.
The second half saw continued hot Bates shooting and their advantage increased to, 53-39, in the first five minutes and later to, 64-47, at the 11-minute mark. Prospects for a final score blowout seemed likely. But then the Gordon shots started to fall from long range and Bates hit a cold spell. During the next seven minutes the Scots outscored Bates, 21-7, and with 2:45 left we were watching a three-point (71-68) game. Hayes Murray was the spark pouring in the two threes and taking a steal in for a layup. In the last minute a Ryan Smith three again had Gordon within three (77-74) but solid Bobcat defense prevented Gordon from even getting off a tying shot attempt.
“We got tired and lost our focus at the end,” explained Bates coach Joe Reilly. “We had a chance to push it out but Gordon plays so hard that it didn’t happen. They are a terrific team and this is a quality win for us.”
Gordon, now 6-2, faces league opponent Curry away on Saturday afternoon.
This was a memorable game for freshman Alex Yeats. His 13 minutes of playing time are by far his most of the season. “These were his first minutes in a tight game and he showed that he belonged out there, “said coach Schauer. At 6’6” Yeats could provide Gordon with an inside presence that is noticeably lacking.
Gordon had an amazing second half statistically speaking. They were a toasty 10 for 14 from beyond the arc and 8 for 14 from inside it. “Give them enough open shots and they can really hurt you, “added coach Reilly.
It was interesting to note that teammates took the shooting burden off of high-scoring Scott Beebe in crunch time. Scott didn’t have any of the last 22 points. “We need to find options other than Scott,” said coach Schauer. “It’s difficult to find shots for him when he’s also our primary ball handler.”
Scott led all scorers with 23 points including one three-pointer off the backboard. Joe Witherspoon contributed 13 and Hayes Murray added 10.
Sophomore Jon Furbush topped Bates with 20 points and 4 assists. Senior CJ Neeley dropped in 19 including the last five points of the game. Another senior, Angelo Salvaggio, contributed 18 including a step back 3-pointer in the second half.
One last stat of interest. Gordon shot only two foul shots in the entire game – Bates had 20 shots. And this wasn’t a badly officiated game. The Scots just don’t take the ball to the basket unless the route in that direction is wide open. Bates could play inside or outside and were fine foul shooters (17 for 20) as well.