By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) The highly regarded Gordon Fighting Scots started the 2006-07 season with an 89-72 win over the Mount Ida Mustangs in the opening round of Gordon’s Tip-Off tournament on Friday night at the Bennett Center.
That win puts Gordon in the finals against MIT (winner over Middlebury College 83-73) Saturday night at 8PM. Middlebury faces Mount Ida in the consolation game at 6PM.
Mount Ida never led against the Scots but with 4:45 left they found a way to be down only 71-70. “Fortunately, we have very veteran guards and I knew that they (Mount Ida) were in foul trouble,” explained Gordon coach Mike Schauer. “At no point did I ever really think to myself we might lose the game.”
Most of the rest of us 800+ folks in attendance, however, weren’t quite as confident as the visitors got closer and closer. But Jerry Logan (21 points), Mike Herr (22 points), and Justin Kaufman (27 points) took over the final minutes as Gordon delighted the Blue Sea with an 18-2 ending and a Scot victory.
All the points in that final surge were from in close or from the foul line. And fouls will be what most of us on hand will remember about this one. There were plenty of them and some were flagrant. We witnessed four technical fouls and one player ejection.
The visitors were whistled for 33 fouls and had four players foul out – most of them big men. That Gordon was only called for 17 fouls and ended up with 32 more foul shots than the Mustangs did not settle well with their fans and players. It was suggested that the referees would be getting paid overtime because normally they only work at Gordon during the day time but on this day they worked for them at night as well!
Mustang coach Rico Cabral was the master of the understatement afterwards. “We had key players get into foul trouble,” he explained. Fouls indeed impacted the minutes of many of his best players. Toward the end he was forced to use players who hadn’t even played in their two scrimmages.
Coach Schauer was shocked by Gordon’s defensive effort. “We’re a team that likes to think we’re decent defensively but they shot 50% against us and scored 72 points. We got into some bad matchups because their smaller players were able to break down bigger defenders.”
But it did turn out to be a win and I guess the expectations must be awfully high when you quibble about how a game is won.
MIT will be a serious test tomorrow night. They have a nice mix of size, speed, and outside shooting. Gordon managed to defeat them in overtime last season. This will not be an easy one for the Scots.
Gordon got off to a fast 10-4 lead in the first four minutes as Mike Herr (senior-Lampeter PA) opened the season with a three while Jon Marstaller (junior-Naples ME) and Jerry Logan(senior-Marietta GA) showed that they can get to the basket.
Three minutes later Jon Marstaller was on the bench with his second foul and didn’t play the rest of the half. Some teams would be in serious trouble if a first team Commonwealth Coast Conference player missed 13 minutes of a first half. The Scots, though, have veterans on board. Mike Herr contributed 15 first half points from near and far as Gordon pushed the lead to as high as, 38-25, before the Mustangs rode Mike Dunham’s outside touch to close out the half down just, 43-37.
“I was frustrated at halftime, “said Coach Schauer. “I thought we had played undisciplined. When the team doesn’t execute the scouting report that we’ve spent time putting together it doesn’t resonate too deeply with me.”
Coach Cabral reminded his team at halftime that “this was one of those games in which you have nothing to lose. Everyone expects you to lose on the home court of a nationally ranked team. You just give it everything you have and see what happens.”
2 ½ into the second half Jon Marstaller thought the referees needed an evaluation from him and drew a technical and a seat on the bench. He wouldn’t be back for six minutes. By that time the Mustangs best player (Otis Thompson 6’8” sophomore) had fouled out with 17 points. You watched and waited for the Scots to execute a decisive pull away after this but instead you saw their lead melt away.
Up 62-53 with ten minutes left the Scots were blitzed by the inside work of Mario Montes (6’2” freshman) and saw the Mustangs narrow things to 67-64 with plenty of time left. Gino DePietro’s layup made this one even tighter (71-70) before Gordon ran off with the 18-2 closing rush in the final 4+ minutes.
Afterwards Coach Cabral was disappointed but optimistic. “We played a good team tough for 35 minutes before fouls caught up to us. On the other hand, this was a game to build on. Last season we won only seven games. If we can match this effort we put in tonight we’ll win a lot more than seven games the rest of the way.”
Coach Schauer wasn’t as certain about the future. “Our young players didn’t play very well so I was forced to shorten our rotation a bit and really rely on those veteran guys. If we’re going to be as good as I hope we can be we’ve got to get a little more depth.”
Jon Marstaller will face MIT well rested and probably with little to say…….Mount Ida was called for two technical fouls in Gordon’s previous game with them at Newton………One of the technicals that the Mustangs were called for in this one was for having too many players on the floor. I thought that only happened in hockey……….For a lot of minutes in the second half the tallest player for Mount Ida was 6’2”……..Justin Kaufman made 9 of 10 free throws in the second half including four straight in the decisive closing segment………Eleven Gordon players saw action. We got our first looks at Ben Gaskill, Brady Bajema, and Aaron Trigg. Aaron got 20 minutes mainly because of Jon Marstaller’s extended bench time. “I think Aaron is capable of better than what I saw, actually quite a bit better especially defensively – Coach Schauer………..The Blue Sea filled one side of the bleachers. They had plenty of volume and seemed to rattle some of the Mount Ida foul shooters. I am still not comfortable with a Gordon crowd that taunts an opponent. I’d prefer that they directed their energies to supporting the home team………..Mike Herr got one of the biggest cheers of the night when he blocked a shot in the first half………The Scots victory ended a two-game losing streak. Had you forgotten the CCC tournament loss to Colby-Sawyer and the NCAA tournament loss to Utica?