By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) Gordon opened its 2007-08 season with a win over visiting Mount Saint Vincent from Riverdale (NY), 78-59, to reach the finals of the 4th annual Gordon College Tip-Off Tournament on Friday night.
“I was pleased that our team responded to adversity,” stated Gordon Coach Mike Schauer afterwards. What adversity could there be in a 19-point victory?
Let me explain. The spectators saw the Scots extend their lead to 39-30 on a Jon Marstaller layup less than two minutes into the second half. No, that’s not the “adversity.” The next four minutes were.
Shortly after making the layup just mentioned the 6’5″ senior (Naples ME) headed to the bench with his 3rd foul. With Jon on the pines the visiting Dolphins went on a 17-1 run with 6’6” junior Chris Rocco doing much of the damage with eight points in close. All the Scots could offer were turnovers (3) and missed shots.
At this point Gordon called a timeout and things thereafter took a remarkable turn for the better for the sizable gathering of Gordon faithful. Maybe the rest during the timeout helped or maybe Coach Schauer said something profound or maybe it was just getting Jon Marstaller back in the game. Whatever it was, the defense tightened and the people you expected to give the team points did so in bunches.
“They came out of that timeout and gained a lot of steam,” recalled Dolphin Coach Mike Murphy later. “Good teams make runs. We just didn’t respond.”
Senior Justin Kaufman (5’11” – Redding CT) brought the Scots even at 49 with an assorted collection. After hitting a three, he headed for the basket on four trips and came away with layups and foul shots. The Dolphins had just a jumper from Senior Derek Charlton during this segment.
Next it was Sophomore Brady Bajema’s turn to move the scoreboard. He gave the Scots the lead for good with a three on a pass from fellow sophomore Tim McDonnell (6’2″ – Jericho VT). Next trip it was Brady (6’2″ sophomore – Whitinsville MA) again dialing long-distance assisted by Justin Kaufman. Therefore, with just under eight minutes to go Gordon was up 55-51.
Then it was time for Jon Marstaller to help us remember why he was voted to the first team of the Commonwealth Coast Conference last season. First he was fast enough to be on the scoring end of a fast break. Then he was acrobatic enough to score on a drive from the left that looked off-balanced to say the least. A foul shot was added giving the home team a 60-53 advantage with 6 ½ minutes remaining.
The Dolphins were still within hailing distance until Jon put on one of his more memorable sequences. First he got the ball down low and spun away from the defender for a layup. Switching to the defensive end, he blocked a shot, then came down the other end, and drilled a three. Game-Set-Match. Now up 69-58 with only 3:45 remaining the Scots closed with a 9-1 run and won going away, 78-59. The Dolphins didn’t score during the last three minutes.
The Gordon win puts them in the finals tomorrow at 8PM against Westfield State. Westfield State got by Alfred College to reach the finals. The Scots defeated the Owls two years ago in the tourney finals.
The Blue Sea seemed to have found replacements for the graduating seniors. They caught my attention in the first half when they started an early shot-clock countdown and got Dolphin Captain Derek Charlton to launch a very wild three.
The Scots got 16 points each from Aaron Trigg (sophomore – 6’1″ – Overland Park KS), Justin Kaufman, and Brady Bajema. Jon Marstaller added 14.
Chris Rocco paced MSV with 13 points followed by Derek Charlton (12), Joe Cooke (11), and Kevin Garlan (10).
“Mount Saint Vincent is going to become a handful before this season is over,” said Coach Schauer. “They’re young and they’re quick.”
It was easy to underrate MSV coming in. That’s what happens when the team you’re playing is coming off a 3-22 season that included a 16 game losing streak and a 0-for-11 record on the road. “It’s the kind of game that scares you as a coach because you know they’re better than their record,” said Coach Schauer. “You just don’t know how much.”
Newcomers getting double-figure minutes were sophomores Ben Gaskill (6’9″ – Columbus OH) and Jeff Derr (6’8″ – Barrington IL). When asked how the two of them played the coach smiled and said, “Like sophomores playing their first game with extended minutes. There was the good and there were the things we need to work on.” No question that 6’9” Ben altered a few shots by his mere presence inside.
Coach Schauer’s biggest postgame concern were his team’s turnovers (14). “We turned it over way too much and a number of them were unforced.” Chief culprits with five each were Aaron Trigg and Jon Marstaller.
“We played very well for about 35 minutes,” explained Dolphin Coach Mike Murphy afterwards. “Our press worked a bit but we couldn’t put the ball in the hole in the last five minutes.”
New face on the Gordon coaching staff is Jerry Logan. He told me before the game that being with the team is “bittersweet.” He explained that he would still like to play and can’t (because he’s graduated) but he enjoys being with his former teammates. No question that last year’s CCC Defensive Player of the Year has plenty to offer the team regarding playing defense.
So that’s one down and 24 more regular season games to go. I’m not comfortable yet with a team that is on the wrong side of a 17-1 run in the second half. What happened after that run, however, was very encouraging and hopefully will carry over into the finals tomorrow night against Westfield State.
The boxscore is inaccurate on the Mount Saint Vincent stats. That can happen when the numbers given to SID Pat Byrne are different from the numbers on the Dolphin uniforms at the game.
Boxscore 11-16-07 Gordon vs Mount Saint Vincent