By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) The only thing from Eastern Nazarene that ran around loose at the Bennett Center was a chicken. Everything else was closely guarded as Gordon (6-1) defeated the visiting Crusaders, 64-50, before chanting Seas (Blue and Red) on Thursday night in a non-conference game. The two teams will meet again in a conference game in January.
Gordon Coach Mike Schauer had plenty to say about the brand of defense his squad played. “We’re a tough team to score on. Six of seven opponents have scored in the 50’s. We gave up 66 points once and that was roughly our average last year.”
That tenacious defense shut down one of ENC’s strong points (3-point shooting) completely. “We’re shooting 36% from out there,” recalled ENC Coach Jon Yeh afterwards. “They did a good job of taking Jeremy (Hueston) and Alex (Carr) away. The pressure outside did open things up inside for JP Marcellus.”
JP (6’4” senior) put on quite a show. He scored half of ENC’s points (25) and added 15 rebounds. When was the last time an opponent put up numbers like that at the Bennett Center?
But in this game JP’s 19 points in the second half were offset by a 20-point second half from Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS). We’re not talking 20 points for the game. This was for the half!
“Aaron was sensational,” said Coach Schauer. “I thought he was the only guy who scored for us in the second half.” Who was the last Gordon player to have 20 points in a half?
Coach Yeh told me that he thought the game was lost in the first half. “You remember the big 3’s that (Aaron) Trigg hit and all those but the plays that really killed us were the ones in which we didn’t get rebounds in the first half.” There is evidence to support his contention.
Over a four minute stretch starting with 6:40 left in the half, the Scots took an 18-12 advantage and went on a 17-4 run and put ENC at a 35-16 deficit that they never recovered from. Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA) (2) and Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME)(1) nailed 3’s but the other four baskets were on converted rebounds – two by Ben Gaskill (sophomore-6′9″-Columbus OH), and one each from Jon Marstaller and Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME).
ENC trailed 35-20 at the half and you had to wonder how they stayed that close when you combine their poor rebounding with 15 turnovers.
The Crusaders cut the lead to ten (38-28 after three minutes) but Aaron Trigg successfully dialed long distance twice in a row and up the lead went to 44-28. With the sizable Red Sea and the chicken egging them on, ENC got within nine (52-43) with eight unanswered points. Again it was JP Marcellus repeatedly getting to the basket against a collection of Gordon defenders. “He was a tough matchup for us,” understated Coach Schauer afterwards.
Only up nine with five minutes to go someone needed to step up. Surprisingly, the run-stopper this time wasn’t Aaron. It was Mike Schnackenberg. He banked in a turnaround jumper from about 10 feet and followed that basket with a couple of free throws, the bleeding was stopped, and the Scots finished off the Crusaders, 64-50.
ENC (3-5) was led in scoring by JP Marcellus (25), Andrew Brown (11), and Dan Shaw (10).
For Gordon the leaders were Aaron Trigg (25), Brady Bajema (14) and Mike Schnackenberg (13).
“If you told me at the beginning of the season that we would beat anybody with Jon Marstaller and Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) going 2-for-17 I would have certainly doubted it,” said Coach Schauer. But with the Gordon defense holding ENC to 50 points it happened and the Scots still won.
Gordon faces Salem State on Saturday afternoon over there at 4PM. The women’s game is afterwards. “We need to play better to beat a team like Salem State,” said Coach Schauer. That game will be Gordon’s 4th game in eight days. Next Thursday the Scots finish their December schedule with a home game with Husson College.
ENC brought an excellent crowd with them and they made plenty of noise. When Gordon went up 31-14 in the first half the Blue Sea started chanting, “Scoreboard, Scoreboard.” It didn’t phase the Red Sea in the least. They were highly supportive throughout and made me think that the game was closer than it actually was.
The Blue Sea was down a few members from the Endicott game but they were the equal of the visitors. Both coaches appreciated the crowd. “It was a great atmosphere,” said Coach Yeh. “It was the first time our guys had played in front of anything like that and it took a while to settle in.”
“I thought that the crowd was great,” added Coach Schauer. “It was really why we played this game. It’s a fun environment and we might as well play in it two times a year.”
The Crusaders have been without 6’7” senior Luc Jasmin all season with a stress fracture. He averaged 13.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season. You would think that he could be a factor in the rematch on January 19th at ENC. That should be a trip the Blue Sea makes.
I’ll be remembering that chicken running around the gym for a long time. And his head wasn’t even cut off although it looked as if Gordon AD Joe Hakes was prepared to consider such an action if it happened again.