By Peter McClelland
(Biddeford,ME) – Gordon caught the University of New England on an off night and easily defeated the Nor’Easters, 66-33, on Tuesday night in Commonwealth Coast Conference play.
“Tonight we didn’t make shots, we turned it over, and we didn’t play defense,” explained UNE Coach Jon Hayes afterwards. “That’s the recipe for a big loss.” And none of us on hand would argue with any of his analysis.
Many of us expected a tough game for a number of reasons; (1) Gordon came close to losing both games against UNE last year, and (2) UNE had beaten Salve Regina and Colby-Sawyer in the past week.
It didn’t seem to matter this time around, though. Gordon was on its game early and did an amazing job on defense. “Smothering” is the best adjective I can think of to describe the way the team played.
“It was one of our best defensive efforts,” said Gordon Coach Mike Schauer after the game. “We were very strong on the perimeter. When Justin Kaufman decides he wants to defend we’re pretty good defensively.”
The Scots defensive pressure continued from beginning to end. In fact, the Nor’Easters didn’t score a point during the last 6:40 of the game. So even players coming off the bench late followed the lead of the Gordon players with the long minutes.
The score was tied early at 4-4 but a jumper by junior Mike Schnackenberg (South Portland,ME) followed by layups from junior Jon Marstaller (Naples, ME) and junior Justin Kaufman (Redding, CT) sent Gordon ahead 10-4 after five minutes.
Another spurt ending with a three from freshman Aaron Trigg (Overland Park,KS) and the lead reached 22-9 after nine minutes.
Later UNE came up empty on six straight possessions while Gordon got a fancy backflip layup and free throw from Jon Marstaller followed by another three from Aaron Trigg and finished off with freshman Brady Bajema’s layup. This collection of points increased Gordon’s advantage to 36-17 and they carried a 38-21 lead at halftime.
Knowing the way the previous games between these teams had gone you thought some sort of comeback might be in the works in the second half.
Junior Issac Stickney put in a rebound with 17 ½ minutes to go in the second half and that kept the Gordon margin where it was at halftime – 17 points (41-24). After that things went seriously downhill for the home team.
Over the next 7+ minutes UNE had no points to show for 12 straight possessions. Gordon meanwhile accumulated 13 unanswered points keyed by Brady Bajema’s seven straight points. When the dust had settled on this segment the lead had reached 30 (54-24) with 10:17 left. The Scots coasted home from there to a 66-33 victory.
Gordon is now 14-5 overall and 9-2 in the CCC. The Scots now sit alone atop the CCC North in the loss column because Wentworth took out Endicott in overtime tonight. That gives the Gulls three losses.
The Scots evened their road record to 4-4. “Now we get to see if we can play like this in places like Curry, Colby-Sawyer, and Endicott,” said Coach Schauer. The Scots face Curry on Saturday afternoon in Milton.
UNE defeated Curry at Biddeford earlier this month. I asked Coach Hayes how they did it. “I think that Curry beat themselves. They didn’t turn it on right away and were sloppy. They came on strong late but we were shooting well and had a big lead.”
Gordon has had a couple of instances where they’ve run into teams playing well; such as Husson, Wentworth, and Newbury. In this one UNE ran into a team playing at its best. The teams meet again on the last day of the regular season at the Bennett Center. Expect UNE to be much more competitive in that one.
Jon Marstaller led all scorers with 14 points much to the delight of family and friends on hand from the area. “Jon continues to carry us offensively at times,” said Coach Schauer. Jon has developed a nice turnaround jump shot in close that is usually beyond the reach of the shot blockers he faces.
Senior Mike Floyd was the only player to reach double figures for the Nor’Easters getting 10 points all of them in the first half.
UNE (4-15 overall and 4-7 in the CCC) gets Wentworth at home on Thursday.
I was pleased to learn that Erin Thames’ injury in the women’s game was a severe sprain and not something worse. She had been taken to the hospital after a serious fall………….The confusion over how “Bajema” is pronounced continues………………When was the last time a pink tie looked right in Maine?…….”I told my team that Gordon’s a 25-win team that is back bigger and stronger and more confident. I think they’re better than last year.” – Coach Hayes……………Senior Mike Herr (Lampeter,PA) still has a sore calf. “I was glad that Mike only had to put in 11 minutes tonight. He’s probably at about 70%.” – Coach Schauer………………Jon Marstaller and UNE’s Issac Stickney played AAU ball together.