By Peter McClelland
(Wollaston) – They’re back and they’re tired but they still had enough drive left to down the winless Eastern Nazarene Crusaders, 74-50, in Commonwealth Coast Conference play on Saturday afternoon at ENC.
The Scots, now 7-3, spent December 30th-January 4th in Georgia splitting games with Emory and Piedmont in Atlanta. They flew home on the 5th, practiced that night and yesterday and then traveled to Wollaston this afternoon.
“This game made me nervous the day I put the schedule together because I knew that before this game we had four tough road opponents (Salem State/Endicott/Emory/Piedmont) and I was anxious about where we’d be from a focus and energy standpoint,” explained Gordon coach Mike Schauer afterwards. “I was pleased that we competed hard throughout.”
Lack of defense has been killing ENC so far. They’ve given up an average of 79 points a game. Giving up that many points didn’t seem likely in this one, though, in the early going. The Crusaders showed an active 2-3 zone and dared the Scots to hurt them from the outside. That seemed like a dangerous strategy what with Gordon coming off a 16-for-27 performance from 3-point land versus Piedmont three days ago. But it worked for a while in this one.
In fact ENC showed plenty of long-range accuracy early from Colby DaSilva and Christian Corey and led, 7-5, after four minutes. But the Scots this year have been marked by a developing inside game and unselfish play. It wasn’t long after, however, that Mike Schnackenberg (6’6”-sophomore South Portland ME) drove to the basket got fouled and put Gordon ahead for good 10-7.
The Crusaders, though, were still in this one only down 25-20 in the last three minutes of the half. But then ENC decided to abandon the zone and use a man-to-man. Why? “I think he (Coach Corey Zink) may have been afraid that he was going to get behind by enough that he couldn’t catch up and hoped to change the pace of the game,” suggested Coach Schauer. Whatever the reason, it turned out to be disastrous switch for ENC.
Jon Marstaller (6’6” sophomore Naples ME) was given room to operate inside and it seemed as if every time his unselfish teammates got the ball to him something good happened for Gordon. The Scots ran eight straight into the second half and Jon tallied all of them.
“They tried to play Jon one-on-one straight up,” said Coach Schauer. “He’s a hard guy to play by your self. Most teams double-team him.”
Gordon feasted on the ENC man-to-man and advanced to 43-25 before the ENC zone returned. Too late. The Scots just kept right on finding open shots and Jerry Logan (6’ junior Marietta GA) hit Gordon’s lone three in this mix. During this dominating stretch the lead built to 50-25 with 12 minutes to go. There was no coming back with the stifling man-to-man defense the Scots threw at the Crusaders.
The game was remarkably even (25-26) the rest of the way as both benches emptied.
I thought that the Gordon defense was terrific throughout. The inside was made unavailable to ENC thanks to the hard work of Schnackenberg, Marstaller, and Mike Herr (6’5” junior Lampeter PA). And there were times when I’m sure that ENC wished that Gordon’s talented point guard Justin Kaufman (5’11” sophomore Redding CT) was with them because ENC had all sorts of ball handling miscues on their way to 24 turnovers.
Gordon had 12 players score with Jon Marstaller (19 points) leading all scorers while Mike Schnackenberg and Aaron Vogelzang (6’4” senior Jericho VT) got 10 points apiece.
Colby DaSilva (14 points) and Christian Corey (11 points) led the Crusaders.
ENC (0-10) hosts Anna Maria next Tuesday night. Gordon, now 2-1 in the CCC, waits until next Thursday to play Colby-Sawyer at the Bennett Center.
I can never get enough of seeing the teams from two Christian schools gathered for prayer after a game. I saw the same scene on the ENC website after ENC’s soccer game at Gordon………….Gordon had its best shooting percentage (52.8%) of the season despite being 1-11 from three-point land……………A good ENC crowd hung in there with their team even when the game was out of reach………….John Beebe got a start in this one…………Jean-Paul Marcellus made as acrobatic a baseline drive as you’ll ever see………I met Tim DeLuca’s dad before the game. He was unaware that I’ve been following Gordon for a while. He informed me that his daughter (Sarah) had a “pretty good” career at Gordon. Yup, and Michael Jordan did the same with the Bulls!……………ENC had their gymnasium floor resealed during vacation. It looked good…………….Aaron Vogelzang had 5 steals including one in the backcourt that he turned into a lay-up…………Gordon’s next opponent (Colby-Sawyer) lost to Endicott today 58-55 at Endicott. Anyone thinking that Endicott was vulnerable with a new coach and some good players graduated is sadly mistaken……………Mark Beebe has a foot injury that’s keeping him from playing.