By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) Basketball may be a team game but you couldn’t help yourself from thinking about Justin Kaufman’s first half and Jon Marstaller’s second half as they led Gordon to a 67-57 win over nonleague Connecticut College at the Bennett Center on Tuesday night.
These freshmen were unstoppable in stretches and enabled the Fighting Scots to acquire a large enough lead to hold off a Camel rush in the last ten minutes of the game.
Justin put the whole arsenal on display in an 18-point first half. He had the long shot going and when a defender got too close there were some nifty spins down the lane. “No question, he’s a real good player,” added Coach Mike Schauer afterwards.
Jon contributed 15 points on the inside by figuring out what the defense was giving him and then taking advantage. When he got the ball down low with the defender behind or beside him points seemed certain to follow. “We’ve got to upgrade the way we get the ball to Jon, however, “said Coach Schauer. “Defenses are sure to improve.”
Those kind of defensive adjustments happened to Justin in the second half. I’m certain Connecticut College coach Tom Satran eyed the halftime stats and decided that serious defense was going to be needed in the second half. And he got that from Malik Brown and David Greenidge. Justin was held to two points and open shots were history.
A Mike Herr jumper and Justin Kaufman’s first trey of the evening gave Gordon a 10-5 lead after four minutes. The Scots would never trail the rest of the way.
Later, Jon Marstaller connected on a couple of jumpers in close and Mike Herr added a couple of free throws as the advantage increased to 24-15 with six minutes to go.
Justin carried the scoring load the rest of the half collecting 11 of Gordon’s 13 points and the Scots halftime lead was 37-27.
In the second half it was Jon’s turn to step up. Two jumpers, a free throw, and an assist on Michael Schnackenberg’s lay-up put Gordon up 47-33 with 14 minutes left.
An important sequence followed. The Camels added a basket and a foul shot but in the process Michael Schnackenberg left with a nose bleed and Peter Hassler injured his ankle. The result was Nick Marino making his first appearance.
Gordon’s tallest player converted a rebound after a battle inside and good things started to happen. Jon followed with lay-up assisted by Scott Allenby. Then Scott went downtown for a couple of treys in a row. Before you knew it the home team had a 20-point spread, 57-37 with a little over ten minutes remaining.
It would have been a good time for the visitors to pack it in but they didn’t. Gordon cooled off like the Yankees in the ALCS and over their next 12 possessions had one successful drive by Jon Marstaller to show for their efforts.
Meanwhile, the Camels started to think that this game could be stolen as they outscored Gordon 16-2 and had narrowed things to 59-53 with three minutes left.
“We caught a break when they fouled Justin after getting that close,” said Coach Schauer. “He’s one of our best foul-shooters. Those two foul-shots seemed to break their momentum.”
Gordon clinched this one with a little over a minute to go by running a set play for Jerry Logan. The sophomore sent the Gordon lead back to 64-55 with a nice drive that put this one in the win column. “I was tempted to call a timeout before that play to review what the play involved but I figured that it would be important to see if the players could find their way without a timeout and they did,” said Coach Schauer.
So that’s four wins but the “honeymoon” is over. The next two are on the road – MIT and Salve Regina. And then there’s Endicott at the Bennett Center! If a week from now I’m writing about a 7-game winning streak we’re likely in for a very special season.
A couple of notes: The next two games I’m looking at D3Hoops to get the results just like everyone else who can’t get to MIT or Salve Regina. A chance to go to a major sports card show and celebrate an early Christmas with Pennsylvanian relatives has me out of here……..Also, I generally try to talk with the opposing coach, but in the last two games I was at – Mt St Mary’s & Connecticut College – the coaches have just not been available.