By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) “He was great,” admitted Gordon coach Mike Schauer afterwards. “We had no answers for him the whole game.”
That “he” was Nemanja Marinkovic, the Endicott freshman from Serbia by way of Houston, who torched the Scots for 28 points and 20 rebounds and led the visitors to a 62-56 win at the Bennett Center on Tuesday evening in Commonwealth Coast Conference action.
The Gordon loss puts three teams (Gordon, Endicott, Colby-Sawyer) atop the CCC North with a loss each. The Scots have to face both Endicott and Colby-Sawyer on the road before this season is over.
Even with the awesome performance by Marinkovic this was a game that Gordon could have won with any semblance of decent shooting. “I’m not sure who we beat shooting 18 for 58 (31%),” wondered coach Schauer.
Endicott set out to wear down Gordon. They applied fullcourt pressure and substituted liberally. “We wanted to get their guards tired,” said Gull coach Mike Plansky after the game. “Tired” and “poor shooting” caught up to the Scots eventually.
“We went into this one believing that if we kept them under 8 successful 3’s that there was no way they could win,” said coach Plansky. Gordon ended up with only 6 treys and definitely couldn’t connect when the game was on the line.
With 3 ½ minutes to play sophomore Alex Yeats (12 points/12 rebounds) converted a miss to knot things at 54-54. The estimated house of 750 people were all revved up thinking that perhaps another strong visitor was about to get taken down.
Too bad there was almost nothing for the home crowd to cheer about the rest of the way. The only points Gordon could manage in crunch time were two Ryan Smith free throws. Four possessions in a row ended with failed 3’s. If the Scots had made just one of them they would have taken the lead.
“I wanted us to get to the basket and at least draw fouls like they did,” said coach Schauer. “We settled for the long-range shots and it cost us.”
Endicott, on the other hand, persisted throughout the game in finding high percentage shots. On this night it meant locating #10 (Marinkovic) inside. His height (6’4”), strength, and finesse spelled disaster for Gordon from beginning to end.
In the crucial last 3 ½ minutes he had the ball repeatedly in close and the Scots were forced to foul him. His 6 of 8 from the charity stripe clinched this one for the visitors.
There was some question as to whether Scott Allenby and Ryan Smith would even play in this game. Allenby had been out against Salve Regina and Ryan had injured an ankle. Neither had a shooting night against Endicott to write much about but they were a part of a strong defensive effort. “The problem with those guys is that they can’t practice enough,” said coach Schauer. “Their shooting was bound to suffer some.”
Freshman Mike Herr had a stellar first half with 12 points and 7 rebounds. He has shown the knack for getting easy points by being alert around the basket.
Josh Oxton was a big part of the Gull success. The clever junior took on Ryan Smith defensively and handed out seven assists to go with 9 points.
Gordon (8-7) travels to ENC Saturday night to experience a place where the home crowd gets vocally involved and the team’s records mean nothing.
Endicott (8-3) has Framingham State on Saturday night.