(Wenham) This was a game that was not high in artistry by either team.
However, at the end, the mishandling Gordon College Fighting Scots had defeated the misfiring Eastern Nazarene College Lions, 56-49, on Saturday afternoon at the Bennett Center.
The Gordon win combined with a Western New England loss (to Endicott) assures the Scots, with four games left, of being seeded at least sixth in the Commonwealth Coast Conference post-season tournament.
That’s what a 10-4 CCC record gets you. What a difference a year makes. If you recall, last year Gordon had a serious struggle just making the playoffs.
The Scots (15-6 overall) are currently tied for second with Wentworth. Gordon will face the Leopards in Boston on February 12th.
Eastern Nazarene (14-7 overall/8-6 CCC) have now lost four of five and they can chalk this defeat up to horrible shooting. Chima Ezeigbo (17 points on six-for-12 shooting) made shots for the Lions but the rest of the team missed forty shots (12-for-52). That’s not even 25%.
As for the Scots, if you eliminate Jordan Kelly, all of the other nine participants had turnovers. No one cornered the market on them. It was a team-wide resurgence of bungles to the tune of twenty-seven. Only the game with Salem State (29 turnovers), very early in the season, produced a higher miscue number.
But the ultimate good news for the Gordon faithful is that the Scots had enough down the stretch to hold off the Lions and continue to prove that they will find a way to win.
ENC made their last 3-pointer (they took twenty of them) with 6:19 left (Aaron Johnson) and then missed all eight attempts the rest of the way.
Despite this sort of shooting the Lions rallied to within four (53-49) with forty-one seconds left and had the ball. But a missed Justin Wagner jump shot (harassed by David Dempsey) was rebounded by Hans Miersma and the 6-9 sophomore was fouled. He then sealed the win with two made free throws with twenty-four seconds left.
Just to make sure, Hans had a loud block on Max Barbosa’s layup attempt three seconds later.
A key segment in this game was after Jaylen Owens’ successful jumper at 5:45 brought the team from Quincy within three (46-43). All of the scoring over the next 2 ½ minutes was by Gordon (six points). Two David Dempsey layups and two Taylor Bajema free throws produced the points.
This run of points gave the Scots their largest lead of the game (52-43) with 2:16 left and ENC, on this day, just didn’t have the shooting accuracy to completely recover.
David Dempsey (13 points/13 rebounds) was the most efficient player with a +20. The 6-5 senior has two more regular-season home games left.
Park Thomas had the quietest of quiet scoring days but the junior‘s points weren‘t needed this afternoon. The last game (Thursday night) at UNE was a different story. His two consecutive three’s in the second half turned that game for the Scots.
The unsung hero for Gordon was sophomore Jason Dempsey. When starting center Hans Miersma picked up two fouls in less than three minutes, Jason came on for fourteen important first-half minutes. The 6-7 sophomore contributed ten points and held his own against 6-9 Chima Ezeigbo.
The next game for the Scots is in the neighborhood with Endicott at 7:30PM on Wednesday night. The CCC defending champion Gulls have lost nine of their last eleven and are only 4-10 in the CCC. Endicott is currently tied with Roger Williams for the eighth and final tourney spot.
Shaun Roach went off for sixteen points in Gordon’s, 70-63, win in the first meeting this season between the two rivals.
Despite their struggles of late, Eastern Nazarene has had a spectacular season. Picked by the other nine CCC coaches to finish dead last, they have put together a 14-win season so far. They have a win over Curry among their eight CCC victories.
By the way, the CCC coaches chose Endicott to repeat as champions. Granted they could, but the Gulls biggest worry at this point is just qualifying for the tournament. A win over the Scots gets them going in that direction.
Top Five Players in this game in efficiency:
David Dempsey +20
Chima Ezeigbo +17
Jason Dempsey +15
Hans Miersma +13
Taylor Bajema +12
Team stats for this game in efficiency:
Efficiency is arrived at by subtracting the bad stats (missed field goals, missed free throws, turnovers) from the good stats (rebounds, points, assists, blocks, steals).
(All of the pictures above and below enlarge considerably if you click on them.)