(Wenham) Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) excelled on defense and led Gordon past non-conference Newbury, 65-53, on Saturday afternoon at the Bennett Center.
The Scots (4-1) took the lead early (7-6 at four minutes in) and never trailed the rest of the way. Because Gordon avoided lengthy dry spells they moved to sizable leads in both the first half (32-17) and second half (61-43). The Nighthawks (2-3) got to within seven (48-41) with ten minutes remaining but were far too inconsistent offensively to get any closer.
The biggest problem for the visitors was that top-scorer Arch Mitchell could not get untracked. “They did a great job on Archie,” explained Newbury Coach LJ Harrington afterwards.
Gordon Coach Mike Schauer added more details. “The most dominant player on the floor tonight ended up with six points and four assists. That was Justin (Kaufman). He dominated the game because Arch Mitchell did not score in the half-court. He had two breakaway baskets and that was it. I don’t always think that young guys understand what it means to take a guy averaging 20 points and have him score four. I was thrilled with his effort.”
The Scots were extremely deliberate on offense and that spelled trouble for Newbury. “They’re a bad matchup for us,” said Coach Harrington. “They require you to defend for 30 seconds and we’re not always ready to do that and it leads to breakdowns. I don’t think Gordon ever took a bad shot.”
Coach Schauer had an explanation for the shot selection as well. “I finally figured out at halftime that we ought to get Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME) more touches around the basket – he only had four shots in the first half. We also needed to get Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA) and Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) more open looks. And we did.”
It is one thing to get the ball into the hands of your top scorers and quite another to have them shoot well. In this one, the shots were falling. Note the 60.9% shooting in the second half and 52% for the game.
This was one of Aaron Trigg’s best games. He matched his highest scoring total with 20 points. He also had 20 points against Nichols last January. Defensively he did a nice job on point-guard Steven Morris holding the speedy playmaker to just one long one in the second half.
“Sometimes Aaron gets compared to Jerry (Logan),” said Coach Schauer. “It is an unfair comparison because Aaron is every bit the player that Jerry was as a sophomore.” What sort of player will Aaron develop into over the rest of this season and the next two seasons? Jerry was Defensive Player of the Year in the CCC for the 2006-07 season.
The Scots used the long ball in the first half to push a 19-15 lead to 32-17. Connecting long-range were Brady Bajema, Tim MacDonnell (sophomore-6′2″-Jericho VT), and Aaron Trigg.
The game-sealing surge in the second half followed an awesome display by Newbury newcomer Albie Watson. If they were going to show only one highlight from this game it would be Albie blowing by a defender from the Midwest for a slam dunk. Two more normal layups for Albie moved Newbury closer at 48-41 but then the game sealer occurred.
Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME) was the catalyst in this surge. He maneuvered his way for three layups while Jon Marstaller put in a rebound and Aaron Trigg nailed a three over a Nighthawk zone. This burst of scoring increased Gordon’s advantage to, 61-43, with six minutes left and stuck this one into the win column for the home team.
Top scorers for Newbury were Albie Watson (14) and Steven Morris (12). Kevin Cleveland collected 11 rebounds.
Next up for the Nighthawks will be Salem State at home. Gordon faces Salem State on the road on December 8th.
For the Scots the next game is the one you circle on the calendar when the schedule comes out – Endicott at home on Tuesday night. This game is always a happening. You could well see a college president or two. The noise is significant and that’s good because occasionally unkind things are shouted but never heard except by those within five feet of the shouter. In addition, year after year the games are usually very competitive.
“I am pleased that Coach Millette and the Endicott administration were willing to play this non-conference game,” said Coach Schauer. “For most of us it is the most enjoyable home game we have. They have played a tougher schedule than we have and their record (1-4) is misleading. It should be another right-to-the-wire one.”
The game starts at 7PM with no women’s game before hand. I absolutely guarantee you that some folks will show up at halftime because they’re thinking it’s the usual 8PM starting time. Will you be one of them?