By Peter McClelland
(Henniker/NH) – Gordon took care of business on the road Tuesday night turning in a fine two-way effort to run away from undermanned New England College, 82-55, in Commonwealth Coast Conference action.
The Scots move to a lofty 15-3 record overall to go along with an impressive 8-1 CCC slate.
The win sets the stage for Thursday night’s showdown with Colby-Sawyer at New London. More on that later.
This was a night when Gordon displayed great shooting (29 for 57 = 52%) and tough defending. That defending really became a factor in the second half when the Pilgrims made just 8 of 27 shots.
Gordon coach Mike Schauer did not hesitate afterwards to excuse the NEC performance. “They were clearly undermanned. Their best scorer (Joe Shaw – 18 per game) was on the bench injured. They played very well in the first half without him but struggled to find offense in the second half.”
At no time in this one did Gordon struggle to find offense. “We’re a tough team to guard,” added coach Schauer. “The team has become more and more unselfish and that helps us turn up good shots. And we have kids who can make them.”
What made this game very competitive for a while was that the Pilgrims were hot early. And when they cooled off a bit they had the heart to withstand a 20-2 Gordon surge that put them down 26-12 and come back to 34-31 with two minutes left in the half.
However, the next ten minutes of basketball could be included in a Gordon highlight reel. NEC couldn’t buy a basket on the few good looks they turned up while, at the same time, the Gordon shooters went crazy. The damage? 25 points in a row and a contest (34-31) became a rout (59-31) by the 12-minute mark of the second half.
“Gordon is very good in their ability to score points in bunches,” explained disappointed Pilgrim coach Charlie Mason after the game. “We wanted to keep it from happening to us but that wasn’t the way it worked out. We hoped in the second half to be more patient and take advantage of their aggressive defense but we didn’t answer the bell on that one either.”
Trying to sort out the fast start in the second half Coach Schauer admitted that they had made a defensive adjustment. “We were getting overextended on #15 (Paul Barker) and he was killing us (12 points in the first half).”
The second half blowout gave Coach Schauer a chance to lighten up the minutes of his starters and clear his bench. A baseline jumper by Alex Yeats and a long three by Jason Russell highlighted the efforts of the bench players.
The Gordon starters came up big on the scoresheet. Twelve for 17 from beyond the arc gives you an idea of the kind of night it was on offense. Joe Witherspoon led all scorers with 19 and Elliott Blackstone had a breakout game with 17. Scott Beebe was “held” to 15 but spent much of the second half watching his brother John take his place.
“The Beebe kid could be as good as anyone in this conference,” said coach Mason. “(Joe) Witherspoon is the unknown man. People forget about him and pay for it. And (Josh) Sylvester can hurt you too.”
The Pilgrims will be visiting Gordon later this month for the last regular season match. NEC now carries a 2-15 overall record with 1-9 of it in CCC play. They have yet to win a game at home.
So now it has come down to a rematch with Colby-Sawyer. A mere week ago Gordon squandered a 12-point halftime lead at home and lost their only CCC game to the Chargers. Thursday night an opportunity comes to right that slipup. Some streaks will be on the line. Gordon has never beaten C/S in CCC play. Gordon has not lost a game on the road (7-0). C/S has a 40-something winning streak at home in CCC play going. Could be a memorable evening!