(Wenham) The returned Gordon students cheered the men’s basketball team when their game against highly-regarded Roger Williams ended tonight, and rightly so.
The Scots (5-10) played their hearts out in a tough 49-48 loss to the visiting Hawks (11-5) on Wednesday night at the Bennett Center. Gordon is now 1-3 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference.
This was a game of nearly continuous action because of very few whistles. Remarkably, the Scots never took a foul shot the entire game and RWU had only four free throws. The referees were letting them play.
Senior Corey Fava made key scoring plays for the Hawks at the end of each half and handed out four assists with no turnovers. Roger Williams ended with twelve turnovers but only one of them was in the second half.
It was a Scot turnover in the last minute that ruined their upset chances. Gordon had the ball and were down one (49-48) after a Corey Fava layup, down the lane, with 21 seconds left. Travis O’Dell, who entered the game as a defensive replacement, stripped Park Thomas as he crossed half court for a crucial take away.
The Scots were then desperate to get the ball back and were forced to foul several times (taking time off the clock each time) before getting the Hawks to the free throw line. Corey Fava ended up with a free throw but missed. After a timeout, Gordon was left with just 3+ seconds and had to go the full length of the court. Park launched a backcourt shot that didn’t come close.
While the loss was real the effort was unreal, especially from Austin Bentson. The fly-around senior had a first half that had everyone’s attention.
The visitors from Rhode Island went up 13-7 after 8 ½ minutes. Enter Austin. The next four minutes the Hawks didn’t score while committing five turnovers – Austin forced two of them. The revved up Scots tallied nine straight and grabbed a 16-14 lead.
Corey Fava’s last-second three gave the Hawks a 26-24 halftime lead.
The Hawks got off fast in the second half (30-24) and after four minutes had their biggest lead of the game (37-29). The Scots have been blown out six times this season and you had to wonder if Roger Williams might be on their way to the same thing. Not on this evening!
Maybe it was the crowd support but, whatever, Gordon dominated the next seven minutes going on a 13-2 run to pull ahead 42-39 with eight minutes remaining. Park Thomas and Greg Walker combined for the last eight points.
Back came RWU as James LeCardi buried a couple of three’s in an 8-2 spurt which gave the Hawks a 47-44 advantage with 5:20 to go.
Plenty of time for either team to make a decisive scoring run. However, RWU scored just one basket (Corey Fava’s late layup) the rest of the way. The Scots weren’t much better with only Greg Walker’s jump shot and layup to show for the last 5+ minutes.
Defense was crucial for both teams. The Scots reduced RWU’s top scorer (Pat Flanagan) to just three points showing a lot of zone defense. The Hawks settled for long-range shots and gave the 6-9 post player few opportunities with the ball.
When Pat did get the ball, there was plenty of Gordon defense in his area.
On the other hand, Pat did a nice job limiting Greg’s operating room in close. Greg had 20 points against RWU last season on the road.
Corey Fava may be the best point guard in the CCC. He came in leading the conference in assist-turnover ratio and in minutes played. Tonight RWU also got ten points from him.
The Carlbergs were in the house for this exciting game.
Next for Gordon is a trip to Milton (MA) to play Curry at 3PM on Saturday afternoon.