(Wenham) Visiting Husson poured in an astonishing 54 points in the second half to overtake Gordon and go on to a, 78-70, non-league win at the Bennett Center on Wednesday evening.
This was the Scot’s second loss in 24 hours and believe me there was not a whole lot of happiness being dished out afterwards as a result.
(Winning games is a worthy goal but I believe that athletic teams at a Christian college have to do even better than that. They have to walk His walk and talk His talk with a mixed group of folks looking on. It is never easy but certainly much less difficult when the games are going your team’s way. The true tests for a team’s walk and talk are when things are not going well. In my opinion, Gordon earned very low grades in this area in losses against Bates and Husson.
At Bates, a total stranger sat down near me behind the Gordon bench. Turns out he lived nearby (Lewiston) and wanted to see a couple of good teams in action. After things went against Gordon near the end he witnessed the team’s reaction and asked the question you never want to hear, “Isn’t Gordon a Christian school?”
Against Husson, a total stranger, wearing a striped shirt, whistled two technical fouls on the Gordon team in the last 1 ½ minutes of the game. This gentleman may well have left the Bennett Center pondering the same question that the man at Bates had raised.
In my opinion, the Scots will have to do a whole lot better handling, “controversial officiating,” the rest of the way to convince me that they are about more than just winning games.)
Did I mention that my father was a minister? That must be why on occasion a sermon slips out.
Gordon (14-6) carried a, 63-56, advantage into the final 4 ½ minutes, and being undefeated at home; I wanted to believe they had enough offense and defense left in them to carry the day. It sure did not work out that way.
Things fell apart completely down the stretch and the Eagles sensing a momentum shift outscored the Scots, 22-7, over that final 4 ½ minutes. No question in my mind that physical and emotional fatigue were significant contributors in the end-of-the-game collapse.
Most tired could well have been Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT), the player with the most minutes played in the entire Commonwealth Coast Conference. He is usually the playmaker and usually covers the other team’s top scorer. Not much rest there and any rest he might have gotten against Husson vanished when his replacement (Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS)) spent most of the game in foul trouble and on the bench.
Justin did have a special moment in this game, though. He entered the 1000-point club on the first shot (long distance) he took. The New Blue Sea was well aware of his point total and began chanting his name and waving signs after he made the record-setting basket. Nice touch!
Fatigue affected the Scots sharpness on the defensive end as they were whistled for 21 fouls. Gordon’s best recent scoring duo of Aaron Trigg and Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME) played short minutes (23 each) because of their inability to defend without fouling. Their limited availability probably lowered the size of the two scoring runs that the Scots went on. Facing bigger Gordon scoring runs, the visiting Eagles might have had much greater difficulty coming all the way back from the holes they dug themselves in both halves.
The Scots best segment of offense was a 5 ½ minute stretch late in the first half when they went on a 15-3 run to build up a nice, 33-22, advantage. Mike and Aaron tallied the first nine points before Aaron headed to the bench with his third foul. Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME) followed with a free throw and Austin Benston (freshman-6′2″-Branchville NJ) converted a rebound. Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA) closed with a three on an assist from Justin Kaufman.
“I told my team at halftime that we had been very guardable in the first half,” recalled Coach Caruso. “I told them that we needed to establish our aggressiveness and we did.”
The Eagles came out making shots in the second half and on the strength of an eight point run by Brock Bradford (24 points for the game) were back even at 39-39.
The Scots, however, were able to put another run of points together. Justin had a couple of free throws while Brady added a layup and a three. Jon finished things off with a three of his own. This scoring put Gordon ahead, 57-47, with a little less than nine minutes left. However, in the middle of the run Aaron was back on the bench with his fourth foul.
The next four possessions were the start of the Scots demise. The Eagles came up pointless in their four possessions but Gordon, instead of building on their double-digit lead, did the same.
“I told my team during a timeout that they (Gordon) had made a run and that we needed to make the last run,” said Coach Caruso. “We got to within two possessions and then had that final run.”
Collective fatigue certainly played against the Scots in the final minutes. They were unable to stop the Eagles, unable to make shots, and unable to control their emotions.
On the brighter side, this was not a conference game or a loss in the CCC tournament and there are several days to rest up for Nichols. This important conference games starts at 3PM at the Bennett Center.
Coach Joe Reilly of Bates (last night) and Coach Warren Caruso of Husson (tonight) were pleased to have Gordon on their schedules. Coach Caruso offered the sentiments of both by saying, “This is a great tune-up for us and it will help us down the stretch as we finish up conference play and move toward the post-season.” Both Bates (February) and Husson (November) are on Gordon’s non-league schedule for next season.
Securing a good playoff position becomes one of Gordon’s goals over the final five games. The top eight teams make the CCC playoffs. The better a team’s record is the more home games they will get. Wentworth won three road games in the CCC tournament to take the title last season. I would not recommend that Gordon set itself up to try the same thing!