(Wenham) Gordon opened the Commonwealth Coast Conference part of its schedule with an 81-60 win over newcomer Regis College on Thursday evening before a close-friends-and-relatives gathering at the Bennett Center. The students are on break until January 22nd.
The win was Coach Mike Schauer’s 100th at Gordon in just his 6th season. “It’s great but I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time thinking about it,” was about all that he would say about the impressive accomplishment afterwards.
Asked about his first win at Gordon he explained, “My first win here was against ENC. Joe Witherspoon hit a layup to win that game by one point. I remember that one because I knew I was going to be in trouble if we lost.”
Typical of the observations of other coaches after competing against Gordon was what Regis Coach Nathan Hager said: “Gordon has a great program and is well coached.”
It took some good coaching to beat Regis. In a game with plenty of whistles (45 fouls) and free throws (53) continuity was hard to find. Lineup shuffling was the order of the day.
“It was difficult for us to find a rhythm because of how the game was officiated,” said Coach Schauer, “and that is not to suggest that the officiating was bad because it wasn’t. There were just a lot of fouls called. That put us into foul trouble and made for some funny lineups.”
This was a game of layups. “We have guys who can get to the rim,” understated Coach Hager. And they weren’t discouraged by an occasional rejection – Gordon had seven blocks.
On the other hand, Gordon had Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT). Early on, he figured out that he could get to the basket just about any time he wanted to and either score or get fouled. “If you let him get around the rim he’s a handful,” said Coach Schauer.
“Justin has played well all year. He defended the daylights out of the kids at Union this past weekend. People put too much emphasis on statistics and so his stats don’t look very good. Tonight he finally put a few in the basket.” That “few” that Coach Schauer referred to was a season-high 24 points.
Regis never led in this game but was close, 16-15, at the 8:25 mark thanks to a layup by freshman Herb Lozano. Each half Gordon put together a significant run. In the first half, it was a 14-3 stretch in less than four minutes and that close game was suddenly 30-18 with 3:45 to go. All of the points were on layups except Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS)’s three and a free throw. A key contributor was freshman Greg Walker (freshman-6′7″-Uxbridge MA) who had two of the layups. The score at halftime was, 38-27.
Regis’ comeback chances were greatly limited by Gordon’s defense. “They get after you in the passing lane,” explained Coach Hager. “They are great at defending the drive-and-kick which is what we wanted to do. We only took eight 3’s and it wasn’t that we didn’t want to take more. They just defended us so well.”
Even without the 3-point shot The Pride was able to hang around for much of the second half because they could get to the basket. They cut the lead to nine points a number of times but Gordon always had answering layups or free throws. Regis trailed, 64-54, with 4:40 left before Gordon put together its second big run. This time it was a 13-2 explosion covering 2 ½ minutes. The Scots started it with two straight 3’s from Aaron Trigg and ended it with layups from Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME) and Justin Kaufman. When the dust had cleared, the visitors were out of range, 77-56. The final score was, 81-60.
Freshman Phil Alibrandi had a double/double for The Pride collecting 10 rebounds and 21 points. Derrick Neal, Herb Lozano, and Bryan Little all reached double figures.
Justin Kaufman led all scorers with 24 points. His highest previous total was 16 in the first game of the season against Mount Saint Vincent. Jon Marstaller, Aaron Trigg, and Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA) accumulated double figures.
“Regis is going to win some games in our league,” said Coach Schauer. “They were unanimously picked to finish last because they were just starting the program. They have the talent to beat some people and fortunately for us we weren’t one of them.”
Regis (6-7) plays its 2nd CCC game on Saturday at home against Colby-Sawyer. “We’re getting a heck of an introduction to the Commonwealth Coast Conference by coming here first and then playing Colby-Sawyer second,” joked Coach Hager afterwards.
Gordon (9-2) now plays one of those games circled on the calendar when the schedule came out – Wentworth. The Leopards are the defending CCC champions and they went through the Bennett Center to get there last February. Who could forget Game #27 in which we watched the Scots squander a 5-point lead in the last minute and lose by one point (69-68) in the CCC semi-finals and end their season before 1000 of us? Saturday afternoon the rivalry is renewed.
“The Wentworth game should be a lot of fun,” added Coach Schauer. “I have great respect for Coach Devitt (who just “happened” to be in the audience tonight) and their team.”