(Wenham) Salem State continues to have Gordon’s number. I’ve seen them defeat the Scots seven straight times including the last four meetings at the Bennett Center.
The Scots may lose occasionally on the road but seldom at the Bennett Center. Last year Husson was the only home loss.
This time it was the Vikings winning, 68-55, on Saturday night in a nonleague game.
The game was a lot closer than the final score indicates although through sheer exhaustion another five minutes might have produced a 20-point deficit. Remember that the Scots had a very (tiring) emotional win over Endicott just 48 hours prior to this game.
The best description of this game would be sloppy. And that includes both teams. Imagine sitting through a grand total of 46 turnovers!
When the visitors came out trapping and pressing fullcourt it was time to reflect on the comfort of having Justin Kaufman in the mix for the past four years. Against a well-coached, athletically inclined team like Salem State, getting to the frontcourt was never a given. You can be sure that the Vikings will not be the last team on the schedule to try fullcourt pressure. But also expect Gordon to get better handling it as the season goes on.
The Gordon defense forced a bundle of turnovers as well and that was certainly a positive.
The Scots streak of matching or bettering opponents in rebounds and shooting came to a screeching halt. You lose those battles and commit 25 turnovers and you shouldn’t expect to win.
It certainly didn’t help that the Vikings had senior Dylan Holmes in action. He’s at least 6’5” and gave the Gordon big men serious problems throughout. Once he got the ball inside the arc, he was trouble. His 25 points and 13 rebounds were a killer.
Despite the turnovers and the presence of Dylan Holmes, the outcome of this game was in doubt until the last six minutes. The Vikings took the lead for good, 39-38, with 14 ½ minutes to go on a Dan Clark layup after one of Gordon’s giveaways. However, the Scots hung around thanks to layups by Brady Bajema and 3’s by Aaron Trigg. It was a 53-51 game with 6:15 left.
After that………….things didn’t go so well. A check of the final score (68-55) will tell you that Gordon was outscored 15-4 over the last 6:15. Turnovers, missed shots, and going 4-for-9 from the free throw line did in the home team down the stretch.
So both teams are 6-1 now. The Scots play their last game before their global warming tour of Minnesota in early January. The opponent will be nonleague Wheelock on Thursday night at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill. The Scots beat Wheelock easily last year at the Bennett Center but the Mustangs have added some excellent players. This game will be the epitome of a “trap game.” That’s one where you underestimate an opponent and suffer the consequences.
Aaron had 23 points and is getting to meet the other team’s best defenders on a nightly basis.
No question there were a lot more open shots than there were against Endicott on Thursday night. But add the lowest shooting percentage (34%) to all the other low-point stats that occurred for Gordon in this one.
This game was especially interesting for Greg Walker because he was playing against a former teammate from his Northbridge (MA) High School days, Brennan Bennett. Brennan is very quick and did a nice job on Aaron when he had the chance.
Having a Christmas Gala going on at the chapel the same night as a Bennett Center basketball game certainly made parking, and walking back to your car, very stimulating.
Maybe you don’t recall the last time Salem State visited the Bennett Center. That was the “popcorn machine” game – the popcorn machine in the lobby triggered the fire alarm and we were all cleared out of the gym and out into a very brisk outdoors. After that “refreshing” experience, we returned to the gym. Salem State went on to make a last-second shot to send the game into overtime and then won in overtime.