By Peter McClelland
The MIT Engineers were so hot that word was that they melted snow on the way to the team bus after surprising Gordon 77-70 in non-league action at the Bennett Center on Thursday night. What made the results surprising was that two days ago Gordon had overwhelmed Connecticut College (85-61) which had beaten MIT a week earlier. Go figure!
How hot were the Engineers? According to assistant MIT coach Oliver Eslinger they broke the school record for successful 3’s with 16 of them. The old record was 12. The visitors already had 11 by halftime in this one.
At most Gordon games it’s the Scots drilling the treys early. Not this time. And in this one Tech ran off 3’s in bunches. Three times in the first half the Engineers ran off nine unanswered points on their way to a 40-27 halftime spread. Getting back in a game where the opponent shoots 61% in both halves just isn’t likely and didn’t happen for the Scots although they played with admirable intensity in the second half.
“There are no easy games on this year’s schedule,” said Gordon coach Mike Schauer afterwards. “The intent is to establish the fact that you have to play hard every time out or you’re going to lose. We had some games early last year where subpar efforts got us by. Not this year. I didn’t think we played with a whole lot of fervor in the early part of this one and we just never could get all the way back.”
Sometimes a team gets behind early and folds for the rest of the game. That wasn’t the case in this one. The Scots deficit reached 18 (32-14) at the 9 minute mark in the first half but they clawed back to within two (47-45) at the 11 minute mark in the second half and four (62-58) with four minutes left in the game. The Engineers despite getting fewer shots stayed hot, however, and just wouldn’t allow the Scots to make that final push to even things.
The only blotch on the MIT performance was their 17 turnovers. “Gordon came out in the second half and raised the intensity and forced us into mistakes in the second half,” added coach Eslinger. Those pointless possessions gave the Scots the opportunity to hang around right down to the end.
Tech’s field goal defense, especially in the first half (Gordon shot 28%), proved to be the difference. “We were ranked 11th in the nation in Division 3 in field goal defense last year,” said coach Eslinger. “This is the first time this year we’ve played this well defensively and it’s a good thing we did against a fine shooting team like Gordon.”
Andrew Tsai (28 points/40 minutes) and Mike D’Auria (26 points/5 assists) tortured the Scots all night from long range hitting 14 of 20 shots. Two of the Engineers had 10 rebounds each – Mike Huhs and Ryan Richardson. Huhs is 6’6” and Richardson is 5’8”. When a guard gets that many rebounds you realize that Gordon’s 20 missed three’s were catching plenty of iron.
Despite the loss several players for Gordon put up some decent numbers. Hayes Murray (W.Simsbury CT) led the team in points (26 including 16 in the second half), rebounds (4), steals (3) and minutes (38). Scott Allenby (Proctor VT) added 16 points while Ryan Smith (Hamilton MA), despite an off shooting night, handed out 5 assists.
So for MIT (now 3-3) it was a night where their shots fell and their defense performed at the nationally ranked level of the previous year. For Gordon (now 3-2) it was a night to experience the results of a sluggish first half.
Ahead for the Scots is a game with a star (snowflake?) next to it. That means Commonwealth Coast Conference action. All other games are scheduled to prepare for league play. First up will be a trip to Dudley (MA) to face the Nichols Bisons on Saturday (weather permitting) at 1 PM. Then the team is back to face Salem State in Salem on Tuesday evening before the Christmas break.