By Peter McClelland
(Boston) – Hey, out there! This season’s Gordon men’s basketball team is the best team in the school’s history. I’m not making this up! Tonight they reached win #21 to surpass the previous high of 20 wins accomplished by Coach Hal Murdoch with a team whose actual statistics are buried in the Gordon athletic archives.
The Scots got to those 21 wins thanks to a 16-game winning streak that is still going on. The last time they lost was on January 2nd in Georgia to Emory. The last game of the regular season for the 21-3 Scots is Saturday at home with Curry.
Gordon’s opponent for the record-setting win was Wentworth Institute. The final score was, 74-64, for the Commonwealth Coast Conference game played on Tuesday evening in Boston.
The Commonwealth Coast Conference playoffs start next Tuesday and the top four teams in the CCC North and South will be in it. The last three years Gordon has made the playoffs but because they finished 3rd each time in the CCC North they traveled on the opening round.
This year it’s a different story. The Gordon win over Wentworth was coupled with an Endicott loss at Colby-Sawyer and put the Scots on top of the CCC North for the first time ever. They now have the best overall record in the CCC and so every game that they are involved in will be at the Bennett Center. Will the home-court make a difference? Come on out to the Bennett Center and see!
Gordon Coach Mike Schauer was pleased with the record-setting win but not thrilled with the way his team did it. “We’re starting to win in ways that don’t make me feel great. We won tonight because we made a lot of shots.” You read between the lines and you don’t hear a ringing endorsement of the defense that was played.
That shortage of defense would certainly apply to Wentworth as well. But they came in with a six-game losing streak and had dropped 10 of their last 11 so you knew they might have a weakness or two. And besides, Gordon had beaten them by 28 points less than three weeks ago. In this one at home, though, Wentworth hung around and had to be licking their chops about the team they have coming back next year.
One player that caught everyone’s attention was freshman Weonard Bynes. This young man had five points in 13 minutes in the loss at Gordon on January 28th. In this one he had the game of his life with 25 points and 12 rebounds. He hit a jump shot, was murder on the offensive glass, made every foul shot (7 for 7), and blocked a shot. “It was his best game and why we’re excited about our freshman class,” said Wentworth Coach Tom Devitt. “We’re building.” The Leopards lose just one senior – Frankie Hall.
But as good as Wentworth was on offense the Scots were even better. They shot a sizzling 58.5% including 8-for-16 from long range. I mentioned in the last game story that Mike Herr would light some team up before the season was over. How smart (lucky?) of me to make that statement. The 6’5” junior from Lampeter PA came out hitting and had 16 points in the first half. The team shot 60% for that first half and ran the lead to, 26-16, after two John Beebe (6’1” senior – Clive IA) free throws. They kept that advantage, 37-27, at halftime as Justin Kaufman (5’11” sophomore – Redding CT) looked and looked to pass but ended up putting up a prayer that was answered.
Coach Devitt was well aware of Mike Herr. “Our plan going in was to try and limit his touches. He’s a veteran who can make shots. We just didn’t do a good job of defending him.”
Coach Mike Schauer was uncomfortable with the 10-point halftime lead. “It is one of my least favorite leads. It’s enough to make a team relax but it really isn’t enough to be in control of the game.”
Wentworth cut the lead to eight early but Gordon just had too many weapons on offense for them to get any closer. “Against a strong team like Gordon it’s extremely difficult to dig yourself a hole and then trade baskets,” explained Coach Devitt.
It’s especially difficult when Gordon has a player like Justin Kaufman. As Mike Herr was to the first half Justin was to the second half. Over the last 11 ½ minutes of this game he scored 14 of the Scots 19 points. There were a three, nine fouls shots, and a game-breaking lay-up in the collection. That lay-up with 2 ½ minutes to play was of the off-balanced variety and ended a Leopard 6-point run that had drawn them to, 67-58. “Justin has just become a kid that you can put the ball in his hands and good things happen more often than not,” said Coach Schauer.
The Leopards regular season is over but they could still make the playoffs if Salve Regina defeats New England College on Saturday.
The Scots finish with Curry in a game that means a lot more to Curry than it does to Gordon. But there is that 16-game winning streak to build on and it’s also the day that three seniors (John Beebe/Aaron Vogelzang/Pete Hassler) get recognized. It would be nice to end the season with an unblemished home record.
Weonard Bynes topped all scorers with 25 points and 12 rebounds. He only missed five shots and I think that he may have rebounded every shot he missed.
Justin’s 22 points were his tops this season. He had 21 at Colby-Sawyer earlier this month in that huge win.
Mike had 21 on a thrifty 6-for-8 shooting. This is the third time he’s reached 21 points. The other two were against Johnson State and Roger Williams. He collected five of those points in this game after getting fouled twice attempting 3’s. The folks on the Wentworth bench weren’t thrilled with either of those calls.
Gordon will play Nichols in the opening round of the playoffs. The Scots won a close one, 66-63, out there on February 11th…………………..The number of parents able to make weekday road games amazes me……………..Wentworth gets my vote for the place with the most excruciating music. I honestly believed that the sound could only have come from instruments and musicians being strangled!……………….Senior Frankie Hall ran through a couple of Gordon picks and got called for it……………………..The Wentworth defense left a lot of openings for drives down the lane. That’s what happens when the outside game is working – the help defense gets too far away………………..Jon Marstaller (6’5” sophomore – Naples ME) was on the receiving end of a backdoor pass from Aaron Vogelzang (6’4” senior – Jericho VT)………………………Aaron later intercepted an inbounds lob pass and took it the length of the court for a basket………………………..That long-range air-ball didn’t fit with the other shots Mike took on this night………………….Gordon must play better defense to win any more games………………….If that winning streak reaches 20 this team is the CCC tournament champion. That wouldn’t be too shabby for a team that hasn’t ever won a CCC tournament game that I know about, never mind a CCC championship.