By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) – Gordon grabbed a double-digit lead (25-14) twelve minutes into their game with New England College and never was seriously challenged thereafter as they routed the visiting Pilgrims, 86-60, at the Bennett Center on Thursday night.
“I’ve come down here five times and we’ve never had a close game,” lamented New England Coach Charlie Mason afterward. He knows his stats because the closest game in the last five years was an 18-point loss.
Gordon Coach Mike Schauer was naturally pleased with the outcome and after the game asked the question (“Can we play like this on the road?”) and supplied the answer (“I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out.”).
Gordon’s next game is on the road on Saturday afternoon at Salve Regina in Newport, Rhode Island. Just close enough to Roger Williams to keep the memory of last Saturday’s wipe-out versus the Hawks in the memory bank.
What Coach Schauer liked most about the decisive win over New England was that “this was back-to-back games where we played hard.” Asked to explain what “playing hard” meant he replied, “By playing hard I’m referring to defensive effort. It means a willingness to defend every single possession.”
That defensive effort was especially noticeable against two of the CCC’s top scorers – Ryan Jaziri & Pat Quinn. Both of the Pilgrim’s sharpshooters were held under their usual averages by relentless Jerry Logan and Justin Kaufman. “Those two can make tough shots but you just have to keep after them and that is what Jerry and Justin did,” said Coach Schauer.
For the second straight game senior Jerry Logan (Marietta, GA) had opposing coaches asking questions during the game such as: “Why is he so open?”, and “Who’s covering him?” Colby-Sawyer watched him make 3-for-4 from beyond the arc while New England observed a 4-for-7 long-range show. Against New England Jerry was particularly warm early gathering 13 of the Scot’s 19 points in the first 8+ minutes. He ended up with 18 points for the game.
Another significant contributor for the second straight game was junior Mike Schnackenberg (South Portland, ME). Mike took a major spill in the second half of the Colby-Sawyer win and there was some concern that he might have gotten a serious wrist injury. That wasn’t the case but his wrist was wrapped for the New England game and you had to wonder how effective he would be. How about 14 points in the first half and a career-high 19 points for the game?
“Schnack has been playing like this since we got back,” explained his coach. “It is nice to see him transferring his good play in practice into game situations.”
Jerry jump-started the team to a quick 10-2 advantage after five minutes. The lead reached double figures (25-14) for good when Schnack converted a rebound. That lead would grow to 18 (43-25) after a Mike Herr (Lampeter, PA) three. The halftime score was 45-29.
The second half featured two significant runs surrounding a coaching mistake. The biggest run I’ve seen in a while (19 straight) happened early. The teams had just traded a couple of baskets to make the score 49-33 with 18:45 left. In the following seven minutes the Pilgrims came up empty on 15 straight possessions while the Scots got points from all five starters. Freshman Tyler Evans two free throws finally ended the scoring drought but the lead had moved to 66-35.
With such a lead Coach Schauer decided to clear his bench. “It was a bad coaching decision on my part,” he admitted. With nearly 11 minutes left the Pilgrims found some life and back in went the Gordon starters. “I didn’t want this game to end with the team feeling bad about the way we played. If I had waited before subbing I wouldn’t have had to put the starters back in.”
With mostly starters back in the Scots ran 11 straight in less than two minutes with points from Justin Kaufman, Schnack, and freshman Brady Bajema to regain momentum and then the benches were cleared. The final score was 86-60.
Gordon is now 9-3 overall and 4-1 in the CCC. Road games with Salve Regina and Wentworth are ahead.
New England is 5-6 and 0-3 in the CCC. They get ENC next. ENC is winless.
Coach Schauer continues to be impressed with Justin Kaufman’s play of late. “For the second game in a row Justin took fewer shots and found instead his teammates a few more times. He still isn’t turning the ball over.”
The most remarkable stat, in my opinion, was the one where Gordon had as many rebounds as New England. The Pilgrims have two of the top ten rebounders in the CCC and Gordon is last in rebounds.
Assistant Coach Jeremy Martin replaced the nets at the Bennett Center today. We both agreed that chain nets should be considered in the future……………….Coach Mason called a timeout even after his were all gone. Gordon ended up with two technical foul shots as a result. I didn’t realize that a team could actually get the full timeout in that case…………………..Freshman Ben Gaskill (Columbus, OH) showed some range………………..Freshmen Brady Bajema (Whitinsville, MA) and Tim McDonnell (Jericho, VT) are no strangers to floor burns……………The Blue Sea was completely dry. The fans that make up the Blue Sea will return in force, I hope, for the next home game on January 2oth against rival ENC………………..The winning streak has reached two. How high can it get?