By Peter McClelland
Hayes Murray’s 3-pointer at the buzzer gave Gordon an improbable 68-65 win in overtime and sent a stream of celebrating fans onto the court as the Fighting Scots downed the hard-luck Salve Regina Seahawks in Commonwealth Coast Conference play at the Bennett Center on Saturday afternoon.
Gordon remains undefeated in CCC action (5-0) and the stage is now set for a home game Tuesday evening against the talented team “down the street” – Endicott. The Gulls have just one CCC loss (Colby-Sawyer) and have every player back from last year’s very successful team.
“It was a great college basketball game,” said Seahawk coach Sean Foster afterwards even though he was very disappointed by the loss. “Kids on both sides stepped up and made big shots. We just ran out of time.”
I say that this win was “improbable” because of two things I saw in the first half.
The first thing was Scott Allenby dressed up in the uniform of a coach – out with a hip injury for who-knows how long. “I thought that I could replace his stats but there was no way I could replace his competitiveness”- Coach Schauer.
The next negative sighting was Ryan Smith hobbling off the court with six minutes left in the half. Off went the sneaker and on went the ice pack for the rest of the half. So after a half with 14 Gordon turnovers, the leading scorer’s return doubtful, and 31-21 halftime deficit it looked like a good time to plan for the Scots first CCC loss.
Not so fast. Ryan Smith was retaped and able to play in the second half and the team seemed to get some energy from his return. They certainly took much better care of the ball with only five turnovers the rest of the game.
Patiently the Scots worked their way back and at last took the lead 44-43 with 9+ minutes left on two Hayes Murray free throws. You started to think that Salve would fold but the visitors didn’t and when they dropped six straight free throws they were in charge 51-46 with only 5 ½ to go.
But the Scots weren’t finished either as Ryan Smith and Hayes Murray tightened things with treys and it was 55-52 with 2 ½ remaining. Then the Gordon man-to-man defense shut down Salve the rest of the way and a free throw from Jerry Logan and a Ryan Smith slash to the basket sent this one into overtime.
The overtime was intense with the score tied four different times. Every trey attempted (four) in the last minute found the bottom of the net. First the Seahawks Matt Smolensky hit one and then Ryan Smith followed with 35-second clock buzzer beater. Not to be outdone Matt Coute tied it up from long distance with only five seconds left.
“I knew we had enough time,” recalled coach Schauer. “The play was supposed to go to Jerry (Logan) and he was to take the ball as far as he could and then shoot or kick it out. Instead, Ryan (Smith) ended up with the inbounds pass and when he went behind his back into the middle I knew that Hayes was going to get a good look.”
When Hayes’ defender slid over to help with Ryan one captain passed to the other and this game was won. “Since the day I arrived here two years ago Hayes has made big shots for us. When he released that shot I knew it was good.”
The loss was another in a series of tough ones for the (2-9 overall – 2-2 in CCC) Seahawks. “We’ll try and stay positive and hope that the kids can bounce back,” said coach Foster.
Sophomore Matt Coute had an awesome game for Salve Regina. He collected 17 of Salve’s second half points. “#31 (Matt Coute) was unbelievable,” said coach Schauer. “He’s a great player and he nearly carried them to the win.”
The absence of Scott Allenby and the reduced minutes of Ryan Smith put a heavy load (36 minutes) on freshman Jerry Logan. “He did a nice job for us.” – Coach Schauer. He had six points and five assists.
The leading scorers for Gordon were Hayes Murray (21 points with 19 of them in the second half and OT) and Ryan Smith (16 – with 13 of them after the half). 6’7” sophomore Alex Yeats posted the most minutes (44) and contributed a double/double (14 points/11 rebounds) along with three blocks including one in overtime.
As mentioned earlier, ahead for the 8-6 Scots is Endicott on Tuesday night. In the preseason both Endicott and Colby-Sawyer figured to be the dominating teams in the CCC because they both flourished last year and had almost everyone back this season. Gordon had graduated key people. However, after beating Colby-Sawyer and being undefeated in the CCC so far the Scots will no longer be underestimated. Expect some excitement on Tuesday evening.
(By the way, if you didn’t get my game story for Thursday’s Wentworth game, the problem is not in your computer. I weighed a night in Boston and chill factors in the minus 20s with a 10-year-old truck and sat that one out. )