(Wenham) Listed as a home game for Gordon, it was anything but that as Gordon students continued on vacation and Eastern Nazarene red flooded the stands.
But the “away game” atmosphere didn’t faze the Scots (5-9 overall/ 1-2 in CCC), especially in the second half, and they picked up a 75-60 win and their first Commonwealth Coast Conference “W” of the season on Saturday afternoon at the Bennett Center.
If the ENC Lions (5-9 overall/ 1-2 in CCC) wanted to make an excuse for the loss they certainly had a big one – Chima Ezeigbo. The 6-7 junior has a broken leg and has been reduced to spectator status. Before his injury, Chima led the CCC in blocks, rebounds, and was averaging 15.3 points per game.
With Chima away, Gordon’s inside players, Greg Walker and David Dempsey, went to town on both ends of the court. Both recorded double/doubles – Greg (19 points/15 rebounds) and David (22 points/10 rebounds).
That twosome broke through the Lion defense for three layups to start the second half and sent the Scots to a 39-33 advantage after three minutes. Later consecutive three’s by Park Thomas and Luke Hamilton pushed the lead to 45-37.
The game-deciding run followed shortly. ENC went through a stretch of not making shots while the Scots didn’t miss. The result? Nine straight points and a 54-39 lead with ten minutes left that turned out to be a mountain the visitors couldn’t climb.
The lead thereafter would get as high as nineteen (66-47 with just under four minutes left) and as low as eleven (67-56 with 1:42 to go) but ENC never recovered from their sluggish first ten minutes of the second half.
Junior DeAngelo Alston (26 points/6 rebounds/3 steals) carried the Lions. An impressive first half had him leading ENC in points (15), steals (2), and rebounds (4). Did I mention that he’s 5-8? He also had a good look at a very long-range, half-ending shot and that came close to going in. The Lions trailed 33-32 at the half.
Gordon won this one despite a nerve-wracking twenty-four turnovers. A second half of 66.7% shooting (16 for 24) was the counter-balance to the team’s careless ball management. Dribbling into traffic looked to be the chief culprit from where I was sitting.
Gordon found offense beyond Greg and David this time around. Garrett Harden, Caleb Perkins, and Park Thomas shot a combined 8-for-12 and contributed a needed 27 points between them.
The Scots resisted the long shot (only seven 3-point attempts) to see, instead, what they could turn up inside. Good idea as a 54% game field goal percentage indicates.
The Lions never stopped putting up the treys. On this afternoon, it was a bad idea as they made just 4 of 29.
Moments of concern were in the second half when first Greg and then David picked up third fouls before eight minutes had gone by. Both spent time on the bench but the Scot offense continued to put up points without one or the other on the floor.
We saw first half dunks by David Dempsey and John Flakes.
Aaron Johnson came in averaging 13.8 points per game but was held to five points on 2-for-8 shooting. When the team’s top scorer is on crutches and the 2nd highest scorer (Aaron) gets five points, you are in trouble.
The Scots showed an assortment of defenses with a little less zone then we’ve seen recently. Shocking to me, was sighting some semblance of full-court Gordon defense on a few occasions.
In the house together, maybe for the last time, were the Gaskills, Bajemas, and Triggs. Where did those four years go?
The Scots return to action on Wednesday night (8PM) against Roger Williams at the Bennett Center. The Hawks play the kind of defense that disrupts patterned offense. Efficient ball management will be crucial for the home team to have a chance.