Scots Fall to Middlebury in Opening Round of NCAA Tournament

Andrew Locke (#31) pictured here with Greg Walker blocked thirteen Gordon shots to set a Middlebury record.

(Middlebury VT)  Unless a team wins the national championship, the season must end with a loss.  Gordon got its final loss against Middlebury College (64-57) in the opening round of the NCAA Division Three tournament on Friday night at Middlebury.

Andrew Locke (6’10” junior) had folks buzzing throughout the game with his school-record thirteen blocks.  Besides blocking shots (to teammates), he also forced several Scot shooters to rearrange, and sometimes miss, what would have been easy inside shots against less dangerous defenders.  Andrew’s shot blocking and intimidation will be the core of discussion as this game is recalled in future years.

Gordon (24-5) never led in this one and had to rally back from double-digit deficits in both halves.  That they did rally back doesn’t surprise any of us regular followers of this team.

A ten-point run gave the Panthers a 27-14 lead with 7 ½ minutes left in the half.  Against the #9 team in the country (according to D3Hoops) that could have been the beginning of a blowout but Gordon put an eleven-point run together to get back into the game.  Greg Walker, Aaron Trigg, and David Dempsey provided the points as the Scots trailed just, 32-29, at the half.

The game-deciding segment lasted 4 ½ minutes early in the second half, as the Scots were outscored 15-2 and trailed 49-34 with thirteen minutes left.  Freshman Nolan Thompson (17 points) had two treys in the middle of this Panther success.

A couple of Middlebury students chanted, “Jesus loves us,” after the first trey.  I’m not sure what they would have chanted if their team had the fifteen-point deficit.

Brady Bajema (21 points) and Nolan Thompson (17 points) led all scorers

As in the first half, the Scots started the climb back into contention.  This time they rode the hot shooting of Brady Bajema (16 second-half points) to close to 57-52 with 1:40 left.  Gordon had the ball and a chance to get even closer but a steal and layin by Nolan Thompson clinched the outcome for Middlebury.

Greg (4-for-15) had a tough night because he was defended by The Shot Blocker.  Aaron (3-for-15) had it even worse.  He was defended by two-time NESCAC Conference defensive-player-of-the-year Tim Edwards and on the times he beat Tim off the dribble he was confronted by The Shot Blocker.

Tim Edwards, besides the defensive work, had eleven rebounds and twelve points. 

Charlie Gaskill, Rick Derr, and Tom Trigg watch the final minutes of their sons' last games.

Plenty of Gordon folks made the 3+ hour trip to support the team including the President and his wife.  The great turnout of parents was no surprise to any of us.  The numerous interactions my wife and I have had with them have been a blessing.  We’ll miss them.

Is there a greater loneliness than to be badly outnumbered on the road and trail the entire game in front of a chanting crowd?? 

We have now seen the last of the basketball exploits of Aaron, Jeff, Timmy, Ben, and Brady.  There were plenty of individual heroics over four seasons but the top memory for me of them will be their part in the win over Curry that finally captured the Commonwealth Coast Conference trophy.  We now know that it can be done!

Patti MacDonnell finds time to visit before the game.

It was good to see former Gordon standouts Scott Allenby, Aaron Vogelzang, Ryan Smith, Andrew Ellrod, and Jerry Logan taking in the action.

The future?  Lord willing, I’ll resurface in November, curious to see what the 2010-11 edition looks like.  Talk about holes to fill!

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Filed under Gordon College men's basketball 2009-10, Middlebury College, NCAA Tournament

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