By Peter McClelland
(Bristol RI) Somehow the logic of it all escaped me. Why was Roger Williams (10-6 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference) facing Gordon (11-5 in the CCC) at HOME in the CCC tournament when Gordon had the better conference record and had defeated Roger Williams earlier in the season?
I don’t hear the answer so I assume that in some gathering of athletic directors the idea of sending the 3rd place team in one division on the road to face the 2nd place team in the other division, irregardless of CCC records, seemed like a good idea. Time to go back to the drawing board before next season! Seed all the teams by conference records and obviously the top four teams in the conference should gain home games in the first round.
What happened last night in Bristol was that home team Roger Williams beat Gordon like a drum 86-61 and sent the Scots home in the speediest of exits on Tuesday evening. Thinking that playing at home might have changed the outcome for Gordon in this one is a major reach. Maybe the score might have been closer but no question the Hawks were the better team.
No one on hand could argue with Hawk coach Mike Tully’s assessment of his team’s performance. “I don’t believe we can play any better than we did.”
You want shooting – the Hawks shot over 50% from anyplace you can shoot the ball from. The only disappointment there was the 14 for 26 from the foul line.
You want defense – the Scots were defended into a miserable 18 for 54 from the field which included a disappointing 8 for 27 from 3-point territory. Gordon’s normal top scorers, Hayes Murray and Ryan Smith, totaled 8 for 26 and appeared to have breathing room only during timeouts.
You want rebounding – now you’re getting to the place where stats reflect the way the game went. Roger Williams out-rebounded Gordon 24 to 7 in the first half and 44 to 22 for the game. It was one-and-done throughout the game.
You want someone to step up and make a statement – choose Marco Barrera the senior captain playing his last game at home. “In my two years here I’ve never seen him play better, “said coach Tully. “And what a time for it.”
The Hawk guard had a relatively quiet first half but the things he did in the second half had the sizable home crowd oohing and aahing. Unfortunately for Gordon they were forced into gambling defenses because they were so far behind and a skilled ball handler like Barrera was in his glory twisting and turning around and past Scot defenders.
He finished the evening with 16 points, 7 assists, 1 turnover, 3 steals, and 8 rebounds. Not bad for a guy coming in with a negative assist to turnover ratio and averaging 5 points a game!
Gordon had enough shooting to stay with Roger Williams in the early going. A lay-up by sophomore Alex Yeats put the visitors on top 25-23 with 7 ½ minutes left in the first half. But the Hawks just never cooled off and ran off 8 unanswered points while the Scots were missing 3-pointers. Ryan Smith finally connected to stop the run but for the last 4 ½ minutes of the half the Scots had only a buzzer-beating jumper from Scott Allenby while the Hawks put together 8 more points and took a 39-28 halftime advantage.
For three minutes in the second half Gordon was a couple of 3-pointers from getting back into this one. However, the Hawks took a 44-33 margin and put this one out of reach with 11 unanswered points (3’s by Chris Cormier, Marco Barrera, and Ryan McKeefrey and rebound conversion by Brian Scharrenweber) to reach a 55-33 spread with 15 minutes remaining.
“We were forced to apply more pressure and just couldn’t make shots to narrow that lead enough,” said coach Schauer afterwards. “We hoped for a run knowing that the way we were gambling on defense could lead to a blowout.”
Gordon did close to 66-52 with 7 ½ left but the Hawks were just too good with the ball to be denied. Except for two treys by Ryan Keaton in the last two minutes they were able to cleverly get to the rim for lay-up after lay-up and win going away.
Besides Barrera’s 16 points, Brandon Parrish and Ryan McKeefrey added 15 points each and Chris Cormier put in 12.
Alex Yeats has another in a series of late-season strong games getting 16 points including 8 for 8 from the line. Ryan Smith (15), Hayes Murray (13), and Scott Allenby (10) were also in double figures.
Coach Schauer was very impressed with Roger Williams. “There are some games when all you can say is that the other team played very well. Our performance might have been a contributor but you get kids confident and playing at home and you run into games like this.”
Coach Tully didn’t think that the score reflected the kind of team Gordon is. “They’re a good team. We just had one of those nights against them.”
Roger Williams gets to play on Come Thursday night they’ll be at Endicott facing the team in the CCC with the best record. If they play the way they did against Gordon they have a great chance to pull the upset.
Coach Schauer was already thinking about the 2004-05 season. “One of our struggles this year was our heavy reliance on making jump shots. Next year we’ve got a freshman point guard coming in and if we’re fortunate enough to get Elliott (Blackstone) back and Alex (Yeats) plays as well as he did we’ll be scoring more around the rim. The question could be if we can make enough 3’s to keep teams from zoning us.”
It’s time for my farewells as well. Following the team for 23 of the 26 games has been a pleasure. They are indeed well coached. I saw it in their work habits on the floor and in their behavior on and off the court. The team and the coaching staff were a credit to the college and to the God they serve.