(Wenham MA) A career game by senor Taylor Bajema was a sight to behold but not enough to carry the Scots past MIT in the home opener on Tuesday night.
The Engineers (1-0) of Cambridge had size on Gordon and a much more consistent flow of offense as they won this non-league contest, 64-51.
The bright light in the loss was Taylor Bajema. His points (19) led all scorers and matched his career high. He had nineteen against Wheaton (Norton MA) as a sophomore. Versus MIT, Taylor paced Gordon in rebounds (7) and assists (5). One game doesn’t make a season, but in this one Taylor put up the numbers of the graduated Alex Carnes. That’s a good thing!
MIT did a terrific job of neutralizing Gordon’s inside game. Any team that shuts out Jason Dempsey (0-for-8) and limits Hans Miersma to six points and five rebounds will handle the Scots. In last year’s loss at Cambridge, Hans had eighteen points and thirteen rebounds. Certainly nothing close to that in tonight’s sixth straight loss to the Engineers.
Andrew Acker turned in a double/double for MIT with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Justin Pedley (18 points) clicked five times (in ten tries) from down town. Point guard Ryan Frankel (18 points) was excellent with zero turnovers and a game-high eight assists.
The bottom line? MIT is very good and the team we saw at the Bennett Center was missing its best player, Matt Redfield. The 6-8 senior last year averaged 13 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks. Okay, MIT is potentially scary good!
Two serious scoring droughts did in Gordon. In the first half, a 14-14 tie evolved into a 25-15 deficit during a 4 1/2 minute stretch. In the second half, MIT put an 18-4 run together (GC was 1-for-7 with 3 turnovers) and moved to complete control (56-39) with 7:49 left.
The key to Taylor Bajema’s big game? Taking the ball to the hoop even against the traffic of taller defenders. Taylor’s ability to finish off the dribble should loosen some of the tight defenses Hans Miersma faces.
With last year’s point guard Park Thomas graduated, I wondered if GC would be able to handle pressure. MIT never used it so time will tell in that area. Freshman Jaren Yang handled the point for 31 minutes. He certainly is quick and he certainly can dribble. Shooting? Four-of-eleven including two-of-eight from long range. The best stat for Jaren, in my opinion, was zero turnovers. The stat that needs to change? One assist.
Besides Jaren, those at the Bennett Center got their first looks at Dylan Marshall, Jake Hart, and Graham Tienhaara. Dylan (5-10) ended up matched against 6-6 Justin Pedley.
It was nice to see the banner in the rafters for Gordon’s 2013-14 Commonwealth Coast Conference basketball championship season. The wonderful after-taste of the Scots remarkable comeback in the championship game at Nichols may never leave.
MIT has won 20 or more games for six straight seasons.
MIT (NEWMAC) and Gordon (CCC) were both picked to finish second in their conferences in this year’s preseason poll. WPI is the choice in the NEWMAC while Easter Nazarene gets it in the CCC.
Second game for the Scots is at Rochester (NY) at 6PM on Friday night. No, I won’t be there. Saturday may provide a rematch with Utica. Gordon faced Utica in the NCAA D3 post-season in 2006 at WPI.
Efficiency stats: Taylor Bajema 25, Ryan Frankel 20, Andrew Acker 20, Justin Pedley 13, Dominic Paradis 13
Team efficiency stats: MIT 73, Gordon 56
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)