(Quincy) In a game in which even the most optimistic would have struggled to give Eastern Nazarene a chance to win, the hometown Crusaders stunned the highly successful Gordon College Fighting Scots, 82-69, on Saturday afternoon in Commonwealth Coast Conference play. Gordon is now 3-1 in CCC games.
Afterwards, Gordon coach Mike Schauer made sure, by repetition, that I understood why the game, in his opinion, went the way it did. “Give ENC credit. They played extremely well. It would be easy to spend a lot of time talking about what we didn’t do well but the first thing to recognize is how well they played.”
There was no way that the team statistics going in would have even hinted that ENC would have a chance. Let’s consider a few things. Gordon defeated ENC, 64-50, 44 days ago. In that game the Crusaders shot 36.7% (18 for 49) and missed all seven 3’s they attempted. The Gordon defeat started ENC on a six-game losing streak. Gordon had won five straight including wins over nationally ranked Plattsburgh State and CCC preseason favorite Wentworth. Is there something there I’m missing that suggests that ENC had a chance? Didn’t think so.
However, in this one the Crusaders (now 4-10) played a complete game and certainly raised some questions about how good Gordon (now 11-3) really is especially on the road. We’ll learn a bit more about the Scots on Wednesday night when they travel to Bristol (RI) to take on Roger Williams. Roger Williams has beaten Wentworth and Western New England in their last two games.
The statistic that told the story was ENC’s shooting efficiency. The Gordon defense has limited opponents to a league-leading 58.3 points per game. The Crusaders got their 59th point in this game with nearly 13 minutes left. “We just never stopped them,” said Coach Schauer.
ENC came in averaging 62.5 points per game. In this one a three by Colby DaSilva gave them their 65th point with ten minutes remaining.
So we saw very good shooting from beginning to end from the home team. Gordon couldn’t keep up and once down by double figures in the second half were in big trouble.
Gordon got off to a decent start and had a 12-8 lead on a Ben Gaskill (sophomore-6′9″-Columbus OH) layup after 4 ½ minutes. That would be their biggest lead. With the score tied at 15, the Crusaders ran eleven straight featuring strong inside moves from JP Marcellus and Luc Jasmin. Alex Carr added a three. That put ENC in front, 26-15, with eight minutes until halftime.
“We want to play off of our big guys (Marcellus and Jasmin),” said ENC coach Jon Yeh. And that they did and once Gordon defenders tried to help a teammate inside, things opened up long range for the Crusaders.
The Scots put together their best offense of the day answering ENC’s run with an eight-point run to close to, 26-23, featuring a three from Tim MacDonnell (sophomore-6′2″-Jericho VT). They were still within range, 33-29, a couple of minutes later before things went south.
“There was a stretch when we had an 11-point lead and it went down considerably,” recalled Coach Yeh. “When we got it back to eleven it was huge because it gave us a cushion.” Alex Carr and Jeremy Hueston dialed long distance in the sequence that gave ENC a 42-31 halftime spread.
It was easy to expect the Scots to roar back in the second half to take command and have us wondering later what had happened in the first half. “I thought that we would come back,” said Coach Schauer.
Gordon started okay with layups from Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) and Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME) narrowing the lead to, 42-35.
However, the Crusaders answered with a back-breaking, nine-point run. DeAngelo Alston drained a three and Andrew Brown added a jumper. JP Marcellus then drove the baseline and spun up a shot that somehow went in. He also added a couple of free throws. All this positive activity (for the home team) put them in command, 51-35, and they had more then enough shooting accuracy at their disposal on this day to carry them to victory comfortably.
No doubt the icing on the cake came within the last four minutes, for the ENC faithful, when a lob from DeAngelo Alston was jammed home in resounding fashion by high-flying JP Marcellus.
“We beat a great team in Gordon,” said Coach Yeh. “This is a big win not just for this team and this season but for our program.” It certainly shows what ENC is capable of when their shots are falling. Wednesday night they face UNE at home. After the Gordon-ENC score reaches Biddeford, Maine you can be sure that the Nor’easters won’t come in underestimating the Crusaders.
The Gordon guards did much of the team’s scoring as Justin Kaufman collected 21 points and Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) added 13 points. Justin also handed out a season-high 11 assists.
JP Marcellus finished with another double/double against Gordon. Coach Schauer admitted after the game at Gordon that, “JP is a bad matchup for us.” I don’t think that that assessment changed any after this game. Coach Schauer may want to make sure that the senior graduates in May.
Freshman DeAngelo Alston may have been the smallest player on the court but that didn’t keep him from quarterbacking his team nicely and nailing five-of-seven shots. That’s how he got 17 points. How he was able to get seven rebounds at 5’7” is much harder to figure.
Good news before the men’s game as the Gordon women defeated ENC, 46-43, and enabled Coach Jeannine Cavallaro to take win #100.
In attendance was #44 (Mike Herr). The graduated sharpshooter is employed as a staff accountant/financial analyst near Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
This certainly would have been a good game to put Mike back into his uniform. Who could forget the quick offense he used to provide? While we’re at it, if only we could have also dressed the other recent graduate, assistant coach Jerry Logan. Last year’s CCC Defensive-Player-of-the-Year might have done something to slow down ENC’s outside shooters.
Remembering the on-any-given-day theory: If ENC can beat Gordon isn’t there a chance that San Diego could defeat the Patriots?