By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) – Endicott could tally just two free throws over the final 5:22 and that gave opportunistic Gordon a chance to catch up and defeat the Gulls, 73-69, at the rocking Bennett Center on Tuesday evening.
The Blue Sea was out in force and they never let the Gordon squad forget their presence. The only time they were silent was when they were reading newspapers during the Endicott player introductions.
Endicott Coach Chris Millette was disappointed that his team had lost but said that “this was the best that the team had played in a long time.”
He added, “We’ve won three straight championships so I expect that the team knows how to close a game and win. The reality is that we have seven new guys. Only two players (Nemanja Marinkovic & Mike Sullivan) have been around for all those championships.”
For the Gordon faithful the game was a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs that fortunately had a happy ending. “I thought it was an incredible college game with both teams playing at their maximum effort level,” said Coach Mike Schauer afterwards.
You run through the eight Scots getting playing time in this one and everyone made a contribution of some sort. On the other hand things happened that had you wondering right up until the end if Gordon would prevail.
The Scots started fast with an 8-2 lead (16:24) but in time Endicott took over to pull ahead 30-25 (4:12). Gordon scored the only points thereafter and the score was tied at 30-30 at the half.
Those who watched (endured?) Gordon’s woeful 3-point shooting against Eastern Nazarene (5-for-28) wouldn’t have been too surprised by the Scots’ 5-for-13 showing long range in the first half against Endicott.
“We knew that they were good shooters and sooner or later they’d heat up,” recalled Coach Millette. “We have a good 2-3 zone and I wanted to use it but I was scared to against these guys.”
Coach Millette was right. The Scots came out on fire and nailed five 3’s in a row over 4 ½ minutes and ended up 7-for-10 for the second half.
Senior Jerry Logan (Marietta,GA) put on a scoring outburst like I’ve never seen before in that second half. During a 7 ½ minute stretch he tallied 16 points on four 3’s, a layup, and two free throws.
“Jerry is just so special,” said Coach Schauer. “He’s been playing well all year. He also usually guards the other team’s best perimeter shooter.”
By the time Jerry was finished with his 16-point performance Gordon was ahead 54-49 with 12 ½ minutes remaining. Despite the Scots discovery of some outside shooting Endicott was far from done. They got a 3 from junior Gary Corbett and abused Gordon on the interior led by sophomore Joey Burgos and Nemanja Marinkovic. With 8 ½ left the visiting Gulls regained the lead 58-56.
“They’re a handful for us to guard inside,” said Coach Schauer. “We don’t have a post defender and they have a slew of guys who can score under the basket. We have to make a lot of shots to beat teams like that and fortunately we did.”
For the second straight game we saw juniors Justin Kaufman (Redding, CT) and Mike Schnackenberg (South Portland,ME) run the lob and jam to perfection. Great crowd pleaser but Joey Burgos answered with a jumper and Endicott was on top 67-63 with 5:22 to go.
The rest of the game was disastrous for the Gulls and downright exciting, in more ways than one, for the friends of Gordon basketball.
Justin got it started by slowing down as he got past his defender and went in for a layup so that the defender would pick up a foul. It worked and resulted in an old-fashioned 3-point play.
Next it was Jon Marstaller’s turn. After a missed Gull three Jon stepped back intentionally beyond the arc and drained a three in front of the Gordon bench. That gave the lead back to the Scots 68-67 with 3 minutes to go.
Shortly after that it was Jon stealing the ball down one end and then driving down the lane for a layup.
Up three (70-67) with 2:17 left the Scots went into the let’s-make-things-interesting mode. Jerry Logan made 1-of-2 free throws but senior Nemanja Marinkovic followed with two free throws despite getting an earful from the nearby Blue Sea. His free thows made it 71-69 with 29.7 seconds left.
The Gulls quickly fouled Jerry Logan. We watched in disbelief when he missed both. However, with a chance to tie and even get ahead the Gulls bobbled the ball under the basket and Gordon tied them up for a jump ball. Fortunately the possession arrow was in the Scots favor.
So the Scots again had the ball and with 7.8 seconds left Justin Kaufman got fouled. Again we watched in disbelief as he missed both shots. However, in what may well have been the biggest single play of the game senior Mike Herr (Lampeter,PA) came down with the rebound on the second miss.
He was immediately fouled and sealed this one for the Scots by making both free throws and preserved a 73-69 win.
“We had only two post players in the lane because we expected he’d make the free throw,” said Coach Millette regarding Mike Herr’s rebound. “The other players were up the court ready to go downcourt and attempt a three so there was no one there to get that rebound. That miss really helped Gordon.”
The Scots are now 12-4 with a 7-2 Commonwealth Coast Conference record. By taking down Endicott Gordon moved into a tie with Endicott and streaking Wentworth for the top spot in the CCC North. Colby-Sawyer got its 3rd CCC loss tonight at home against the University of New England.
Endicott drops to 5-8 and 3-2 in the CCC. They face Wentworth at home Thursday night. A Wentworth win would not surprise me.
The Scots travel to Hellenic College to take on non-league Newbury. Wentworth defeated them tonight.
Nemanja Marinkovic registered a double/double (10 rebounds/14 points) while Joey Burgos led all Gull scorers with 16 points.
When the game films for this one are reviewed in Beverly a lack of consistent offense will likely emerge as the culprit in this loss. Take away the 4+ minute’s drought at the end of the first half and another scoring drought over the last 5+ minutes of the game and the Gulls had this game in hand.
The next meeting between the two teams is in Beverly in February. The Endicott students will have returned from break. Their fans will be out in force. Can the Blue Sea travel?
Both Jerry Logan and Mike Herr had double/doubles for Gordon. Mike’s were in rebounds and points while Jerry’s were in assists and points.
Sports Information Director Patrick Byrnes put the crowd at 1102. Were the dorms completely empty?…….One of the many big defensive plays was Mike Schnackenberg’s block of a Gary Corbett shot in close in the last two minutes of the game……”It’s a lot of fun to have a rivalry in a situation where there’s not a lot of animosity” – Coach Schauer……………What would make a student think it was a good idea to throw a ball onto the court during the game?…….Those two 3’s that freshman Aaron Trigg (Overland Park,KS) nailed in the first half must have felt good after he had gone 1-for-18 during the previous five games……………6’9” Ben Gaskill (Columbus,OH) saw some action when Gordon used a zone to combat Endicott’s inside game………….The Presidents of both colleges were in the house…………Jon Marstaller (Naples,ME) got a chanting salute from the Blue Sea at the end of the game and deserved it. He had 20 points in this game and has had double-digit points in every game except the blowout win against Mt.Ida and the blowout loss at Husson. In both of those games he played about a half. He could well make the All-Conference first team again if he keeps up his good play…………I asked Coach Schauer about what he told the team at halftime in a 30-30 tie. I was surprised and so was the Salem News reporter when Coach Schauer said, “I honestly told them to praise the Lord that we get a chance to do stuff like this.”…………Nine games left. Can the team close the regular season with a long winning streak?