(Wenham) Endicott displayed poise in crunch time and defeated Gordon, 71-68, in a nonleague contest before a wonderful crowd at the Bennett Center on Thursday evening.
The Scots (4-2) wasted a thrilling comeback in this one. Down 59-42 with 10 ½ left, only a full-blown Gordon optimist would have envisioned what went on over the next 7+ minutes. The Scots went on a remarkable, crowd-pleasing scoring run (21-2) led by Brady Bajema – he had 15 of the points.
Brady’s last three gave the Scots its first lead (62-61) of the game with 3:25 left. Aaron Trigg added a point to the lead before Gulls Mike Rhodes scored on a difficult lane drive to knot things at 63. Matt Bibeau and Brady traded baskets so things were even (65-65) with 1:10 left.
You’d like the veteran team’s chances before its home crowd in this situation, wouldn’t you? It didn’t work out that way.
Sophomore Erik Callo made two free throws to give Endicott the lead (67-65). The Scots answered with a grievous frontcourt fumble (Aaron) that led to freshman Danquah Rawlins breakaway basket. Now down four (69-65), Aaron wiggled in from the baseline to collect an old-fashioned three with 25 seconds to go. The Scots (down 69-68) then fouled Danquah and it worked – he missed the free throw. Brady then got a good look at a three from in front of the Gordon bench but missed. Erik Callo took in the rebound and was fouled with 8.6 left. Calmly in front of a screaming crowd, he drilled both of them. Behind by three (71-68), the Scots had eight seconds to try for the tie but another frontcourt turnover (junior Mike Rhodes steal from Brady) ended this one.
Endicott (3-2) takes away the ultimate positive from this game with the victory even though their top scorer (Graham Whitelaw – 14.7 ppg) arrived using crutches. The Gulls, however, had to leave wondering what happened during that 21-2 run the Scots had in the second half.
For the Scots, the comeback from the 17-point deficit was a positive for sure. On the other hand, an argument could be made that this game was lost in the first half and/or at the foul line. If the Scots had managed to be respectable in either area, they win this one.
Granted Endicott plays tight defense, but when the Scots had just two assists in the first half (trailed 40-25) something was seriously wrong with their offense. I’ll call it solo basketball. Gordon entered the game averaging over 14 assists per game.
The foul shooting was disastrous. The Scots missed ten in the first half and thirteen for the game. This from the team that was second in the conference going in at 76 ½ %. At home, the team makes just 11 of 24 attempts?
This is all just another example of how unpredictable the 2009-10 Gordon team continues to be. Of course, on a December day in Massachusetts with temperatures in the high 60s and a full moon to boot, why should I be surprised?
Gordon travels to Cambridge to play undefeated (7-0) MIT next on Saturday afternoon.
Parking continues to be an adventure. When you see swimmers in the pool, you know the Bennett Center parking lot is full. Tonight there was an event on campus that eliminated some of the parking spaces in the chapel parking lot. Who knows where the late-arriving Endicott crowd parked.
I knew that Jeff Derr was hurting from the shot he took to the nose versus ENC when he missed both free throws he took. He hadn’t missed a free throw in the first five games. He did make a great up-fake that cleared him for a layup in the second half.
Ben had a good news (13 rebounds) bad news (0-for-6 at the free throw line/ five turnovers) kind of game.
Endicott frustrated Greg Walker inside by sending weakside defensive help on almost every touch he had. Someone has to be open when this happens.
From where I was sitting, freshman David Dempsey looked more comfortable on the court. Maybe it was because Endicott had four players from Connecticut.
The crowd was terrific. Even when the team was playing poorly, they never let up.
Gordon plays the league game at Endicott on January 30th. I can still see the shot Aaron made at Endicott to enable Gordon to win over there last year.