By Peter McClelland
(Beverly) – “When I got this job they said you can’t lose to Gordon,” explained victorious Endicott Coach Chris Millette. Well they didn’t this time around. The Gulls built up a nice first half lead and kept the cold-shooting Scots at bay in the second half and opened their Commonwealth Coast Conference schedule with a 62-47 victory in Beverly on Tuesday evening.
There was no question that Gordon (5-1) turned in its most ineffective offensive performance of the young season. Yes, they’ve won five games but a lot of that success was coming from a greatly-improved inside attack led by Jon Marstaller and Mike Schnackenberg.
“We’ve got returning shooters who are shooting in the teens,” said a concerned Coach Mike Schauer of Gordon. “If that doesn’t change we’ll get beat a lot more times. We’re just not a balanced basketball team right now.”
I like to script the games I do because you can usually find from it where games are won or lost. In this one it was real obvious. This one got away from the Scots during a 3 ½ minute stretch midway through the first half. After a Jon Marstaller trey at 13:30 narrowed the Gull lead to 11-8 the Gordon offense hit the snooze button and awoke 3 ½ minutes later and found themselves trailing 23-8. Coach Schauer went through two timeouts during this unfortunate stretch trying unsuccessfully to stop the bleeding.
“The way we were shooting this game was literally over after they ran 12 points in a row in the first half,” explained Coach Schauer.
Both teams scored 39 points apiece the rest of the way and Gordon was never able to muster the firepower to make things interesting after getting behind by double digits.
There was a terrific crowd on hand and there was plenty of chanting (or is it taunting?) going on. The Gordon section was filled and even President Carlberg and his wife Jan were in the house. Would they be considered bad luck since the only game they’ve attended so far turns out to be a loss?
First year Coach Millette was surprised to see how poorly Gordon had shot (15 for 47 – 31.9%) in this one. “Our scouting report informed us that they were shooters. We were fortunate that (Mike) Herr was missing some shots.”
And that poor shooting will have to get fixed and soon. Gordon plays rugged Salem State in Salem at 3 o’clock on Saturday to close out their December schedule.
“You can talk about all the intangibles but eventually you have to put the ball in the hoop and tonight we just couldn’t do it,” said Coach Schauer.
Endicott, on the other hand, made shots (25for 54 – 46.3%). I do think, however, that the Gulls learned that Gordon will no longer be pushed around in close to the basket as they have in years past. Sophomores Mike Schnackenberg and Jon Marstaller rejected an astounding eight shots in this game and only committed one foul between them.
But Endicott (3-3) did score many points in close to the basket late in the second half. “When you get down and desperate you extend the floor,” explained Coach Schauer. “You take chances and sometimes it doesn’t work out.”
The Gulls for their part had just enough offense and defense to keep Gordon from threatening. “They’re a good team and to their credit they never let us get close,” said Coach Schauer.
“We stayed composed in the second half,” said Coach Millette. “That hasn’t been the case in all the games we’ve played so far.”
Endicott will face Worcester Polytechnic on Thursday night. This should be quite a test for the Gulls as the Worcester team is ranked 10th by D3Hoops. I might just have to come back to see that one.
One chant I did hear from the crowd was, “Over-rated.” I have to admit that I was overly optimistic going into this one and should have known better. Gordon may have been 5-0 coming in but Endicott had won 18 straight CCC games at home and was a terrific 30-2 in CCC play at home over the last three years. And then there’s the crowd to contend with. They can be merciless anyhow but fall behind and they swarm an opponent. The two teams do play again and this one is at the Bennett Center and maybe the Gordon crowd can do the swarming in that one.
Junior Nemanja Marinkovic continued his tradition of hurting the Scots. The last two years he has sliced and diced Gordon’s interior defense for all sorts of points and collected as many as 20 rebounds. Gordon’s big men contained him very well in the first half this time but when the Scot defense got extended in the latter stages of the second half he did some damage. He put up 10 of the Gull’s points in a row with a converted rebound, several lay-ups, and jump shots. For one defensive moment under-sized Jerry Logan ended up trying to cover him.
Nemanja led all scorers with 14 points. Newcomer, to me, Gary Corbett had a surprising 12 points in just 12 minutes of playing time. Senior Zach Ellis drained two 3’s during the first half spurt and finished with 10 points.
Mike Schnackenberg continued his promising ways with a 12-point night. Jerry Logan had 11 points and was the most accurate of the 3-point shooters making 3 of 4.
Jon Marstaller grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds and took a couple of major spills……….Matt George and Joey Burgos had breakaway jams to stir up an already stirred up home crowd……….Jerry found out that spinning down the lane against Endicott is a good way to pick up a turnover………We probably should have known it was going to be a long night when during the 3 ½ minute scoring drought Gary Corbett attempted to pass inside to Nejamja Marinkovic but had the pass get deflected to a wide open Zach Ellis who would bury a three!……….We saw a half-time contestant quickly make 3 shots and have several near-misses from half-court……..The stat work at Endicott was terrific. They even had a running score. I’m told that Gordon could have the same thing.