Okay, we weren’t actually on a rollercoaster but it sure felt like it.
Gordon opened its 2009-10 season with a last minute rally that led to a 61-59 win over nonleague Husson (Bangor Maine) at the Bennett Center on Wednesday night.
This game had 21 lead changes (11 in the first half/10 in the second half) so there was plenty of uncertainty over how this one would end as the following four paragraphs will explain.
The Eagles took a 4-point lead (57-53) on a pair of Jay Uhrin free throws with three minutes left. Unfortunately, for Husson, they would add just two more points (Matt MacKenzie free throws) the rest of the way covering six possessions.
Meanwhile, your Scots closed out the game with four point-producing possessions in an 8-2 run that clinched Win #1.
The key play? How many times have we seen Brady Bajema bring the ball up as Aaron Trigg runs the baseline, gets a screen from a big man (Jeff Derr on this occasion) and gets an open look from the corner? You’re right, often. Tonight it happened in the last minute and Aaron connected on the three from the right corner to give the Scots a lead (58-57) they would never lose.
Husson did have several chances but poor foul shooting (13-25) cost them as Jay Uhrin missed the front end of a one-and-one with twenty seconds left. Brady got the rebound, was fouled and hit both shots to give Gordon a 3-point lead (60-57). Husson missed a three but Matt MacKenzie was fouled in the rebounding effort and made both to make things “interesting” (60-59) but only four seconds were left. Brady was fouled on the inbound play and made the second free throw. The Eagles were left with time only for a desperation three from in front of the scorer’s table by Brock Bradford that hit the backboard. Normal breathing among the faithful then resumed!
So the Tod Murphy era begins on a thriller. Mike Schauer had the same experience when he won a similarly close one at ENC in November of 2002 to start his seven-year Gordon run.
The Scots started slowly and found themselves behind 16-5 after six minutes. Not to panic, the Eagles soon after went through eleven straight possessions with zero points and the Scots put together eleven unanswered points to pull in front, 19-18, with 6:49 until halftime. The rest of the game the lead changes were numerous and the final result seriously in question.
We got our first look at two of the new guys (David Dempsey and Scott Nelson). David (6’5” from Wallingford CT) earned a starting position and quietly was the leading rebounder with eleven. Scott (6’ from Oakhurst NJ) played only five minutes but is the closest thing to a true point guard I’ve seen since Justin Kaufman graduated.
One very impressive Scot stat was rebounds. They had 52, which tops any game from last season. The shooting? Not so impressive. Too many in-close misses as well as low percentage attempts to suit me. Their 21 turnovers weren’t too tasty either. But a win was the result and we all left happy over that.
The crowd was excellent. Pity the second-half, opponent free throw shooter attempting one as the student body verbally thrashes him. Credit the crowd for some of the Eagles 12 charity stripe misses.
A great assortment of player parents was on hand. Besides from Massachusetts, I noticed parents from Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, Kansas, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Illinois, and Vermont. I find it truly remarkable.
The team is right back on the Bennett Center court on Friday night (8PM) facing Maine Maritime (Castine ME) in the opening round, late game of the TipOff Tournament. Baruch faces Westfield State in the first game. All four teams will play again on Saturday night.
One of the Gordon parents is a Maine Maritime grad and his cheering habits will be closely watched during Friday’s game.