(Schenectady NY) Some games are more special than others are. This was certainly one of them.
Gordon shocked nationally ranked Plattsburgh State, 80-62, in the opening round of the Sig Makofski Invitational on Friday night at Schenectady, New York.
The Scots (7-2) took this game over early with deadly shooting and built up a 17-point lead (37-20) by halftime. The Cardinals closed to within eight a couple of times in the second half but Gordon’s shooting never deserted them and they pulled away to win, 80-62.
“One of the things we were talking about before this game is that our program is starting to build a little bit and one of the things we have never done is beat a nationally ranked team,” said Gordon coach Mike Schauer afterwards.
There was no question that to beat a team picked to finish 16th in country in a preseason D3 Hoops poll and recently ranked 19th by that same D3 Hoops the Scots would need their best effort. Wow, did they get it!
“If we can ever shoot the ball, we’re good,” added Coach Schauer, “because we’re good defensively and play hard. In this game we played even better than I expected.”
Cardinal coach Tom Curle said that this game got away in the first half. “Gordon came out thinking that they wanted to win while we were thinking that we were supposed to win.”
Why shouldn’t the Cardinals have come in confident? They were averaging 82 points per game and had Anthony Williams (D3 Hoops preseason All-American) and his 24.5 points per game average on their roster.
However, after the decisive first half you had to wonder about those numbers. Plattsburgh State had scored only 20 points while 6’1” senior Williams had only contributed four points. You knew that you couldn’t count on things staying that way.
“I told the team at halftime that Plattsburgh State didn’t think that we could play with them in the first half and in the second half they will,” recalled Coach Schauer. And sure enough the intensity picked up but on this night Gordon displayed incredible shooting accuracy whenever threatened.
“They made it impossible for us to make a big run at them,” said Coach Curle. “Every time we started to they’d step up and make a big shot or make two free throws.”
The Cardinals best run of the game was a 6-point run that cut the Gordon lead to, 41-33, with 14 ½ minutes left. Meanwhile, the hot-shooting Scots had three runs of six points, as well as runs of 7, 8, and 10 unanswered points.
Gordon’s 55.6% field goal shooting for the game was the highest of the season. The free throw shooting accuracy (24-27) was also a season high.
The Scots took the lead for good (9-6) at 14:30 when Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME) connected on a three. The Cardinals closed to, 11-10, after an Anthony Williams layup. Then came the 10-point run by Gordon featuring the highly heated Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA). The two-minute hot spot boosted the Scot spread to, 21-10. Later the Scots would end the half by surrounding Antwane Miller’s 3-point play the old-fashioned way with a couple of six point runs. One of the key shots in this segment was a last-second three Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) hit from the right corner.
As I mentioned earlier the Cardinals played a whole lot better in the second half. The pessimist in me kept thinking that a team of Plattsburgh State’s reputation might be able to win a game with only one-half of intensity. But not on this night.
No question that Justin Kaufman did a superb defensive job on the Cardinal All-American (Anthony Williams) holding him to 16 points. Williams had trouble getting the ball and once he did, he had trouble going anywhere with it.
The Scots ended with five players in double figures led by Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) and Brady Bajema with 18 points apiece. In fact, Brady never missed a shot. It was good to see him bounce back after being shut out by Salem State in Gordon’s last game.
Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME) added 14 points including eight free throws. Two of those free throws came after a very controversial blocking foul was called against Khylan Hunt of Plattsburgh State. Cardinal coach Tom Curle vehemently disagreed with the official’s call and got a technical foul. The resulting free throws were part of an eight-point run that put this game from in range (53-45) to out of range (61-45).
The Cardinals (7-2) will face Purchase College in the consolation game tomorrow at 1PM.
The Scots will face host Union in the championship at 3PM.
“I told the team afterwards that I had come here (Union) to win a championship,” said Coach Schauer.