By Peter McClelland
(Brookline) – Maybe the best news of the night happened elsewhere as Roger Williams took a second Commonwealth Coast Conference loss playing Salve Regina. That defeat ties them with Gordon & Endicott in the loss column and enables those three teams to control their own fate in the pursuit of the #1 seed in the CCC tournament at the end of February.
Meanwhile, at Hellenic College Gordon dropped a non-conference game to Newbury, 70-69, on Thursday night. This game was just as exciting as the Endicott game on Tuesday but the setting defied comparison.
Both teams rallied back from significant deficits to set up an exciting finish. The Scots battled all the way back after trailing 53-43 with 14 minutes left to tie the game at 64-64 on two Jerry Logan (Marietta, GA) free throws with 3:12 left.
Gordon’s next basket was a three by freshman Brady Bajema (Whitinsville,MA) from Jerry Logan and it gave the Scots a 67-66 lead with just 1:15 to play.
The rest of the way we saw a season-long weakness (interior defense) and a recent weakness (free throw shooting) both kick in together and send Gordon to defeat.
First it was freshman Kevin Cleveland getting a pass from senior Steven Morris for a layup to give the lead back to the Nighthawks, 68-67. Junior Justin Kaufman answered with one of two free throws to tie things at 68 with 45 seconds left.
After a timeout and a number of looks inside junior Ivan DaSilva penetrated and found freshman Heman Honore alone for a layup that put Newbury ahead, 70-68, with 15 seconds to go.
The Scots then got off a couple of shots including a potential game-winning three by Brady Bajema before Justin Kaufman again was back at the foul line with 4.5 seconds remaining. He missed the first and made the second to pull the Scots within one point – 70-69.
Gordon was given one last chance when Newbury lost the ball out of bounds due to Scot pressure. With 3.5 seconds left there was still time. However, after a timeout to set up a play things went south as a perimeter pass intended for Jerry Logan was picked off by Ivan DaSilva to seal the win for the Nighthawks.
Second year Coach LJ Harrington admitted afterwards that it was his biggest win. “I thought that our guys were a little more excited and energized to play. I know it’s difficult to play a non-conference game in the middle of what are a lot of rivalries.”
The setting of the game itself was eye-opening. Having experienced two days prior a boisterous crowd estimated at over 1000 (against Endicott)it took a bit of getting used to when there wasn’t a single Newbury fan on hand when the Nighthawks started warming up.
Unfortunately, the sound system didn’t work so there were no player introductions or a rendition of the national anthem. Naturally no stats were available.
I asked Coach Harrington about where they practice and he told me, “We use Hellenic and Pine Manor and we practice outdoors when the weather is good. It builds up a certain resiliency among the kids.” He wasn’t kidding about that outdoors stuff, I don’t think.
I asked him about when he thought Newbury would get it own gym. He told me, “Not in our lifetime. We’re a school with limited resources.” Hats off to them for their perseverance. The Scots played under similar negative conditions and prospects but that was 40 years ago.
Despite their limitations Newbury moves to 9-7 and have now defeated three CCC teams – New England, ENC, and Gordon.
Junior Jon Marstaller (Naples, ME) was a major bright spot for the Scots. He rolled up his second game in a row with at least 20 points netting 26. He was on the layup end of some nifty passes and also drove well from the outside. Even more appealing has been his 3-point touch. He’s 10-for-16 from out there over the last five games and went 2-for-3 in this one. He also had three blocks.
Gordon drops to 12-5 overall and I’ve been informed that they won’t have an 18-game win streak like last year. However, they are in a position to control their own destiny in the CCC. There are seven conference games ahead starting with Nichols at home on Saturday afternoon at the Bennett Center.
Luckily they don’t have to play New England College again. Somehow tonight the Pilgrims put up 120 points in a 120-96 shootathon against a pretty good Colby-Sawyer team at New England. I’m glad I wasn’t trying to chart that one!
Freshman Ben Gaskill (Columbus,OH) had a couple of blocks, by my count, in one sequence………Sophomore Tim DeLuca (Gray,ME) saw some action after missing the last seven games. The team could use his instant offense in the schedule ahead……………Sophomore Michael Barile (Windsor Locks,CT) arrived at the Bennett Center on a skateboard……………If nothing else a visit to play Newbury helps me appreciate more than ever the Bennett Center and the work of Sports Information Director Patrick Byrnes.