(Newburyport) What did you expect? You go to St. Paul, Minnesota in January and “cold” is going to be part of what you get.
For some it would be cold hands. Others cold feet. For your Gordon College Fighting Scots it was cold 3-point shooting.
The result was a 69-62 loss to the Northwestern College Eagles (8-4) on Saturday afternoon in a nonleague game far from home.
The Scots led early in this one by as many as nine points (15-6) but turnovers and missed shots enabled the Eagles to put together a 12-2 run during an eight-minute stretch. This stretch of Gordon ineptness put the home team ahead 18-17 with five minutes left – a lead they would never lose. That advantage would increase to 31-23 at half’s end.
Gordon connected on just one 3-pointer (Aaron Trigg) in eight attempts in the first half.
Northwestern (three 20-win seasons in a row) went into the run-away-and-hide mode early in the second half and built their lead to 14 a couple of times, the last being 49-35 after six minutes had been played.
Two years ago (check my archives) Northwestern visited the Bennett Center and they fell behind 80-63 in the second half before rallying to turn a potential blowout into a nail biter. The Scots hung on at the end to escape 87-82.
In Saturday’s game, it was Northwestern’s turn to hang on. That 14-point lead (49-35) nearly disappeared in seven minutes of play. Two Aaron free throws narrowed the lead to 55-53 with seven minutes left.
But Gordon could never get closer. Down three (61-58) with four minutes to go. Down three (63-60) with three minutes to go. Down three (65-62) with two minutes left. The team couldn’t make the big stop at the four-minute mark or the two-minute mark. At the three minute mark they had the lead cut to three and the ball but could not make the shot needed to get closer or tie the game.
Frustrating. I dare say that the Eagles’ possession after Aaron’s made jumper at 1:57 would have been the capper. If the play-by-play account from the Eagles’ website is correct, and I’m quite sure it is, the Eagles took three shots missing them all and collected THREE offensive rebounds to keep the possession alive. Gordon ended up fouling, probably out of frustration, and Northwestern dropped in two free throws to push their lead to 67-62 with 42 seconds remaining to seal this one.
Gordon was 2-for-10 in 3-point shots in the second half.
If Gordon lost because of hitting just 3-of-18 long ones, you could probably say that the Eagles won because of their foul shooting. They made 18 straight before missing their last two at the end of the game. That great free throw shooting was no fluke. Two years ago, they hit 27 of 30 at the Bennett Center. For those of you doing the math at home, that’s 90% home and away.
The Scots are now 7-2 and will stay in Minnesota for a game with another UMAC opponent, Crown College, tomorrow (Monday) night. It will be very easy to underestimate Crown. They are 0-8 this season and have won only three of their last 29 games. Their last game before Christmas break they decided to take on a Minnesota D2 powerhouse. Bad idea. They trailed 62-11 at halftime. We can assume that Gordon’s current coach will not be allowing his team to take anyone lightly.
The 2008-09 version of Ben Gaskill continues to impress this reporter. The “new” Ben has learned how to defend successfully without fouling. Against Northwestern, he turned in his first double/double (12 points and 11 rebounds) and, according to one emailer, Ben played his best game of the season.
I thought I’d be seeing the game on my computer. Was I the only one who couldn’t?
Two years ago, both teams gathered after the game at center court for prayer. I was glad to learn via email that the same thing happened after this game at Northwestern. I continue to believe that this act should be in the repertoire of competing Christian basketball teams. Why? Because it sends a clear message to observers and players on both squads that there is more going on than just basketball. Why wouldn’t it be a good idea??