Late Three Gets Nichols Past Gordon in Men’s Basketball

(Wenham) Excruciating.

The Gordon faithful watching at the Bennett Center and via the internet on Saturday afternoon know what I’m writing about and now the rest of you will find out.

Matt Langadas with the ball - Craig Merrick out of view to the left

Craig Merrick wide open on left wing

Craig Merrick releases the game-winner.

The Scots dropped their fourth straight as Nichols’ Craig Merrick drained a triple with four seconds left to give the visitors a thrilling, 71-69, win.  Meanwhile, The Faithful were stunned but not surprised.

Gordon (6-10 overall / 5-4 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference) has now dropped four straight CCC games and established an agonizing pattern in the losses.  They play well in the first half and squander their advantage in the second half because of sub-par defense and shaky ball management.

On Thursday, Wentworth pulled out a win over Gordon in the last six seconds when Derek Mayo connected on a triple for one-point win.  Then to follow two days later with this loss.  Very tough.

David Dempsey takes last shot

In both games David Dempsey has ended up taking desperation 3’s afterwards and come reasonably close both times.  The way things are going he may want to put some more practice into last-second shots!

In this one Gordon led by nine at halftime, 37-28, thanks to 57% shooting.  That lead reached eleven (44-33) on a Park Thomas three with 15:38 left.

Then the ride south took place as the nonstop Bison pressure began to pay off.  Less then eight minutes later Jessy Michaud’s long shot gave Nichols a 55-53 advantage.  (That was a 22-9 run for the visitors.)

The rest of the way?  Very exciting for both teams.  There were five ties, several lead changes, and neither team ahead by more than three.  Anybody’s game.

Nichols’ last 3-point lead was after a Ryan Sheehan layup at 1:27 but Alex Carnes followed with two free throws.  Then the Bison’s best 3-point shooter (Sam Horning) missed and Park Thomas followed with two pressure-packed free throws with thirteen seconds left to give the Scots a tenuous one-point lead.

A Nichols timeout brought Craig Merrick into the game.  The 6-6 junior had played three minutes in the first half and none in the second.  Why did Coach Dave Sokolnicki put him in the game?  He’s the team second-best 3-point shooter.

Hans Miersma stayed in the lane to discourage any last-second attempts from in close and that left the man he was guarding (Craig Merrick) with space beyond the 3-point line. Matt Langadas was able to get the ball to Craig on the wing and with four seconds left he cashed in the game winner.

David Dempsey (16 points) covers Matt Langadas (17 points)

Besides that crucial assist, Matt (freshman) had three others to go with a game-high seventeen points.  Matt is from the same high school (Lake Region – Naples ME) that Jon Marstaller played for.

David Dempsey (16) and Alex Carnes (15) paced Gordon.

Senior JT Himmelstein has re-emerged as an active player.

Taking care of the ball continues to be a team-wide problem.  The Bison gathered twenty points off of turnovers in the second half alone.  No way are we discussing a loss if those miscues had been fewer.

Nichols (6-10 overall / 4-5 in the CCC) had three freshman and a sophomore as their top four scorers.

Two positive takeaways from this game for me were: (1) the Scots hung with Nichols even after losing the eleven-point lead, and (2) the students were back and active.

Things are going to get better.

Next game is at Western New England (Springfield) on Wednesday night (7:30).  The team returns to the Bennett Center for a rematch with Curry on Saturday afternoon.

(The pictures above and below enlarge if you click on them.)

Jalen Graham & JT Himmelstein

Craig Merrick mobbed afterwards

Gordon dance team

JT Himmelstein

Mike Salis looks for an opening

Hans Miersma jam

Park Thomas before crucial free throws

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Filed under 2011-12 Gordon College men's basketball, Nichols

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