(Cambridge) This was the Endicott game all over again. The only difference was that the opposition was MIT in Cambridge.
Bad start (down 10-0), complete comeback for the lead (56-54 with less than 8 minutes left), inability to hold a lead down the stretch, and game-costing foul shooting.
The result? 78-73 loss by Gordon (4-3) in overtime to still undefeated (8-0) MIT in nonleague action. This is the best start MIT men’s basketball has ever had.
The Engineers are very good but they were ripe for the picking after Ben Gaskill (11 points/10 rebounds) took in a Brady Bajema miss, and spun in for a successful layup fouling out Noel Hollingsworth in the process. This happened with just 1:17 left in this game and was no small foul-out because the 6’9” sophomore had 28 points and every big man on the Scots roster, except Coach Tod Murphy, had taken shots at defending him. Anyhow, so out goes MIT’s top weapon. Ben makes the free throw and Gordon has a 68-65 lead with 1:17 to go.
At this point the inability to close (get a key rebound/run a productive offense) kicked in. Down three, MIT tries a three and misses but the Scots fail to get the rebound. Given a second chance, MIT’s Billy Bender (13 points) connects with 42 seconds left to tie the game. Gordon follows with a shot-less possession (illegal screen – Greg Walker) and MIT ends up with an open shot from the corner (Billy Johnson) at the buzzer that nearly ended this one in regulation.
Overtime? Three things will tell you the story. (1) Gordon grabbed the early lead when Aaron Trigg (20 points /3 assists) found Greg alone under the basket for a layup. (2) MIT followed with two unanswered three’s. (3) The Scots missed five of six free throws.
Gordon was actually within three (76-73) and had the ball and time (11.5 seconds). MIT opted to foul (Ben) instead of letting the Scots even attempt a tying shot and the strategy worked. He missed both with 6.6 seconds left and the Engineers added two free throws and remained undefeated.
For the second straight game, Brady went on a shooting spree. In the first half, he tallied sixteen points getting ten of the Scots last eleven points as they recovered from an 11-point deficit (31-20) and closed to 36-33 at the half.
The Engineers are very young and had 70 of their 78 points scored by either freshmen or sophomores. Noel had a flip-hook that couldn’t be blocked and some quick moves off the dribble. Despite his 28 points, I thought the Gordon defenders really made him work.
Unfortunately, for Gordon, when Noel fouled out the offensive bottom didn’t drop out for MIT. They began to spread the floor and let (freshman) point guard Mitchell Kates create. Is it too late to ask Santa to send Gordon a point guard like him?
The Scots resume play on Tuesday night (7PM) at the Bennett Center. Last game before the Christmas break. The team will be in a tournament in Schenectady (NY) on January 4th and 5th.
The opponent Tuesday night is Wheelock. They are 4-1 with the loss to Curry in their last game. However, prior to that they defeated a couple of very capable CCC teams – UNE and Wentworth.
No one asked but things that I’ve liked about the 2009-10 team so far are: (1) Ben Gaskill learning to play tough, dominate the boards and not foul, and (2) David Dempsey beginning to look to score. The team could sure use another scoring option.
Things that worry me? (1) Too many minutes on Brady and Aaron. Both had 40s versus MIT. Big minutes now could lead to tired legs in the CCC tourney at the end of February. (2) Teams are no longer surprised when Greg sets up in the lane. In fact, teams now double and triple team him when he gets the ball. Trying to operate in that coverage had something to do with his nine turnovers against MIT. Is there some way to punish those extra defenders?
The games that “count” (CCC games) don’t start until January 9th so plenty can change before then………. hopefully for the better.
Arriving early, I got to spend some time in MIT’s impressive swimming/diving facility.