By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) – Scott Allenby put on quite the shooting show at the start of the second half and led the Scots to a home victory 80-62 over the New England College Pilgrims in Commonwealth Coast Conference play on Tuesday evening at the Bennett Center. The win put an end to four painful losses in a row.
“This game was immensely competitive except for those three minutes when Scott was just unbelievable,” explained Gordon coach Mike Schauer afterwards.
What happened was that a 10-point halftime Gordon lead (41-31) jumped to 55-33 as the Scot junior connected on shot after shot. He started with three treys from long range then took a turnover in for an old-fashioned 3-point play. He closed with two foul shots after a drive following another turnover. That’s 14 points in three minutes, folks!
“We just couldn’t get to him fast enough,” explained New England coach Charlie Mason later. “Gordon is so unselfish that you can’t just key on any one player or the others will hurt you.”
So if you delete that Allenby-led 14-2 spurt you can see that this game could have been up for grabs otherwise. And riding a four-game slide there’s no telling what might have happened even against the underdog (and winless) visitors.
But Allenby was the difference maker. “I decided after losing four in a row that we were not going to win many more games no matter what player moves or defensive changes we made unless Scott Allenby played like a CCC All-Star,” said coach Schauer. “So for the last 48 hours we’ve been challenging him to raise his game. He sure did tonight and I’m real proud of him.”
New England had some things to be pleased with too. For the first seven minutes this one went back and forth with Gordon holding a slim 16-13 advantage.
But then the Scots ran off ten straight in 3 ½ minutes and seemed headed for a laugher. “We were close but then they made a run,” said coach Mason. “They move without the ball as well as anyone in this league and are always looking for an open shot.”
Gordon, however, could do little with Pilgrim Jay Bishop. Every time he got the ball in close it seemed that the scoreboard changed. The 6’6” junior poured in 17 first half points from in close and helped New England narrow the lead to 38-31 in the last minute. The Scots got the ball out-of-bounds with less than 3 seconds left. Off the bench came Ryan Smith and within two of those seconds he had used a screen to find an opening from the corner. Swish at the buzzer and a 41-31 halftime lead.
Once Scott Allenby pushed Gordon to its 55-33 advantage the Pilgrims outscored the Scots the rest of the way (29-25) but 78-62 was the closest they got. “I was tempted to use a zone because of the way we were getting scored on inside,” said coach Schauer. “But I didn’t want to over-react because in a zone they can start to get 3 at a time.”
Both coaches were able to clear their benches in the closing minutes. Seldom-used Troy Gabriele got a big cheer from the undersized home crowd when he converted a rebound in the last minute.
“I’m very impressed with Gordon,” added coach Mason. “With their style of play and the way they can shoot here you can be sure that any team coming in here will have their hands full. Mike (Schauer) does a great coaching job. I came away more impressed with the team rather than individuals.”
New England was led by Jay Bishop (26 points) and Pete Nelson (14 points). The Pilgrims will try and end a 16 game losing streak at home against tough Endicott on Thursday night.
Gordon (6-4 CCC / 9-10 overall) will wait until Saturday to face Roger Williams, one of the top teams in the CCC South, at 3 PM at the Bennett Center.
Only six more games left in the regular season.