By Peter McClelland
This game guarantees senior Ryan Smith special attention in the near future, if not for the rest of the season. His 35 points will catch the eye of box score perusers and future opponents alike.
“He has all the shots. He just has to be willing to keep putting them up,” said Gordon coach Mike Schauer after Smith’s 26 second-half points enabled the Scots to hold off the visiting nonleague Newbury Nighthawks 90-79 before a vacation-effected crowd at the Bennett Center on Tuesday evening’s home opener. The Scots are now 2-1 while Newbury is 1-2.
Coach Schauer came into this game knowing that Newbury would be a problem to defend. “I saw both of their first two games and knew that they could shoot.”
And shoot they did. Guard Loren Green was unstoppable pouring in 22 points in the first half from near and far. In the second half the junior from Lynn (MA) added 10 more.
Meanwhile Hayes Murray was in the zone in the first half (17 points) and then along came Ryan Smith with 26 points in the second half. “I like to win games by successfully defending the other team,” explained coach Schauer. “This was one in which the offense carried the day.”
Newbury hoped to put a lot of points on the board. “We have to score in the 80s to win,” said Nighthawk coach Adam Nelson. “Of course you can’t give up 90 and have much of a chance.”
The visitors looked like a blowout candidate as they watched Gordon drill four treys (three by Murray) and jump out 14-2 after three minutes. But the Nighthawks fought back and the lead was narrowed to 18-17 at the 10 minute mark.
Andrew Swenson turned some heads with a cluster of points (rebound conversion, 4 foul shots, and a 3-pointer) and Gordon moved ahead 32-21 with six minutes to go. “Andrew is a streaky player,” said coach Schauer. “He can make a lot of good things happen in a hurry.”
Again Newbury had answers and when Roland Matthews drained two treys in the last minute the Gordon lead had shrunk to 44-43 and only a last second three by Hayes Murray saw the Scots leave the floor up 47-43.
The first basket of the second half had Ryan Smith successfully dialing long distance after a feed from Alex Yeats. And that was just the beginning! He had three more treys, a jumper, and eight foul shots before the half ended.
Even though Newbury couldn’t contain Smith they didn’t go away. A 3-point play by Jarred King knotted things at 50 after two minutes. Six minutes later Newbury was still there tied at 61-61.
But then it was time for a surge that Newbury couldn’t respond to. Jerry Logan took the ball to the basket for two and then Smith went wild cashing a three, a four, and a three. Murray added yet another three and Gordon was in command 76-63 with 7 ½ to go.
The fouls and frustration began to take its toll on the Nighthawks. The Scots spent the rest of the night at the foul line, in fact, Scott Allenby and Ryan Smith did not miss any of the 14 attempts they were given during the last six minutes as Gordon won 90-79.
“Our plan coming in was to be aggressive defensively,” explained coach Nelson. “We knew that they’d be able to shoot the 3’s. We lost our composure down the stretch and just fouled way too much. We’ve got seven new faces with no seniors so mistakes are expected. There is a long way to go and we should be okay.
“I told the team that Gordon would be one of the better Division 3 teams we’d face this season. Despite losing some players I think that they’ll be fine in their conference.”
Ryan Smith led all scorers with 35 points followed by Hayes Murray (22) and junior Andrew Swenson (13).
Loren Green paced Newbury with 32 points (despite fouling out and missing the last six minutes of the game) and Julius Hobert added 14.
This game was a bit of an adventure to write about since the stat program didn’t work. Can machines have opening game jitters??
Next up for Gordon is a trip next Tuesday to Connecticut College in New Haven, Connecticut. This team is part of the attempt to upgrade the competition the Scots face. This one will be a major challenge.