By Peter McClelland
(Boston) – “And while you’re at it, Joe, could you drive the bus home?”
“I told the coaches afterwards,” said Gordon coach Mike Schauer, “that we lose this game if we don’t have him (Joe Witherspoon) wearing #34 for us.”
The Scots certainly needed Joe’s performance (28 points) to get by the stubborn Wentworth Leopards, 66-50, in Commonwealth Coast Conference play on Saturday afternoon.
The win moves Gordon to 18-5 overall and 11-3 in the CCC. Wentworth drops to 4-17 and 2-11 in the CCC.
“In this one we literally became like an NBA team,” explained coach Schauer. “We just dumped the ball into the post and stood around and watched him (Joe). And fortunately he made enough plays to let us win.”
The final score might suggest an easy win but that wasn’t the way it was. Both teams had hot and cold streaks in this game. Early the Scots went down 11-5 only to surge ahead 16-11. Then it was Wentworth’s turn as they went up 27-20 only to allow the Scots to rally back 30-27. The score at halftime had Gordon leading 37-32 but this one was far from over.
Eight minutes into the second half Wentworth had rallied to tie the score at 48 on the strength of a couple of free throws by Nick Stewart.
“Too bad they didn’t stop the game shortly after that,” said Wentworth coach Harry McShane afterwards.
Those last eight minutes were a nightmare for the home team. Wentworth had only two free throws to show for it. In fact, they didn’t make a field goal during the last 12 minutes. “We just didn’t make shots,” said coach McShane. “At times we settled for the quick shot when we needed to be more patient.”
Meanwhile, Joe Witherspoon carried Gordon to victory. First it was a 3-point play the hard way. Then it was two free throws. Next trip, in the prettiest play of the game, he gracefully guided Hayes Murray’s missed three back in. This put Gordon up by seven (55-48) with four minutes left and then the only uncertainty was the final score.
“We were conscious that their strength is perimeter shooting and we tried to negate that as much as possible,” said coach McShane. “Anytime you can hold (Scott) Beebe to two points and (Hayes) Murray to one point you think you’re in pretty good shape. But they’ve got other guys who can hurt you and it was (Joe) Witherspoon in this one.”
Gordon used a man-to-man defense early but switched to a zone when Wentworth got off to its fast start. Later in the second half it was more man-to-man defense and that second half defense contributed to the Leopard’s poor shooting when the game was on the line. “It made me happy,” said coach Schauer, “to see us play that defense better after the way it went against Anna Maria and early in this game.
Joe wasn’t the only one to play well inside for Gordon. “Alex Yeats continues to contribute,” said coach Schauer. The 6’6” freshman tallied 8 points in close on 4 for 7 shooting. And for the second game in a row he’s shown that he can make a short jumper.
Elliott Blackstone was the other Scot in double figures with ten points. He was perfect from the field (3 for 3) and the line (4 for 4).
Wentworth’s top scorer was Nick Stewart (14) followed by Earl Faulk (11).
Next up for Gordon is a trip to Biddeford, Maine on Thursday evening to face the UNE Nor’Easters in the last regular season away game.