(Wenham MA) Wondering what those loud noises you heard this afternoon on the Gordon campus in Wenham were all about?
That was Gordon and Eastern Nazarene going at it in men’s basketball.
The families and friends of both teams packed the Bennett Center and both collections of fans had plenty to get excited about.
The biggest cheer of all? It came after the final buzzer as the Gordon side enjoyed the realization that they had just taken down ENC, 87-85, in overtime.
The win was no small task. The Lions (13-6) took the first meeting, 100-84, and had won five straight. ENC had two wins over Endicott. They’re very good!
But on this afternoon the Scots (9-10) were just enough better to stun the visitors.
How did the Scots do it? How much time do you have to read? Trust me, there was no straight line to the finish.
Gordon, coming off twenty-five turnovers in the first meeting, picked up right where they left off at the start of this game. Four turnovers, and an 11-1 deficit later, Coach Tod Murphy pulled the plug on all five starters. The reserves were able to stop the bleeding and GC reached a 17-17 tie.
ENC led, 36-34, at halftime.
In their previous game, the Lions were only in front by four against Curry before exploding for a 54-point second half to blow out the Colonels.
Could the Scots keep such a barrage from being dropped on them? It turns out that they could. The shot blockers were out (GC had nine of them) and Gordon had multiple shot makers.
Garrisson Duvivier had the game of his young Gordon life overpowering the Lions for an impressive twenty-seven inside points. Add on long-range accuracy (5-for-7) by Noah Szilagyi and the Scots weren’t going away.
But ENC has arguably the best player in the Commonwealth Coast Conference in senior Jaylen Owens. The guard’s defense (four steals) and shooting touch from anywhere (29 points) were a big part of keeping the Lions in the lead in the second half.
With 3:56 to go ENC was up 69-62 and seemed to have enough on both ends of the court to finish off the Scots. But the Lions would only score once the rest of regulation.
The teams went in two different directions: Gordon shot from in close while ENC opted for launch-and-pray.
The Scots style worked and they were able to run ten unanswered points to take a 72-69 lead. Eight free throws (out of twelve) and a Garrisson layin were where the points came from. Those four missed free throws, however, turned out to be important.
After Noah Szilagyi missed the second of two free throws, Jaylen Owens crossed midcourt and let fly with a “Hail, Mary” basketball style. The shot went in to send the game into OT and believe me every Lions’ fan in the house let out a roar.
That may have been more of a roar of relief because prior to the tying three-pointer, the visitors had missed five straight long ones and had two turnovers. ENC was fortunate to still be playing.
Overtime? Six lead changes. Jaylen and Noah each collected eight points. Three different times Noah answered baskets by Jaylen with two 3’s and a layup of his own. Noah’s last basket was a floater in the lane with eight seconds to go to put GC ahead, 86-85.
After a timeout, there wasn’t a person in the house doubting that Jaylen Owens would somehow, some way get the final shot. It made sense. But on this possession, after Jaylen raced into the frontcourt, he passed, instead, inside to a cutting teammate (Laquan Gomes). Laquan had shot-blocking Garrisson nearby and rushed the layup and missed it.
Sam Johnson took in the rebound and got fouled with one second left. Sam missed the first free throw and then tried to miss the second one (to get the clock to run out) but it went in. The miss gave ENC a chance to get a final launch-and-pray (Lequan Gomes) which Garrisson deflected to end the game. WHEW!
Now you know what all the shouting was about.
The real beauty of the overtime was that the team with twenty-five turnovers (Gordon) didn’t have any in those five minutes.
The remarkable game by Garrisson (27 points/16 rebounds) overshadowed the quiet double/double turned in by junior teammate Sam Johnson. Sam registered his 11th double/double (14 points/11 rebounds) of the season.
Unsung hero? Sophomore Jake Hart. Jake spent thirty-six minutes chasing Jaylen Owens around. Jaylen did get 29 points but it took him 26 shots to get them thanks in part to Jake’s defense. The one getting the “MVP” chants from the ENC fans also had six turnovers. Jake also found a way to get eight points and take in six rebounds. Easily his best game of the season.
Garrisson Duvivier 44
Sam Johnson 20
Lequan Gomes 19 (16 points)
Noah Szilagyi 17 (18 points)
Christian Lynch 16 (15 points)
Jaylen Owens 16 (29 points/4 steals)
Next for Gordon will be a visit on Tuesday night to UNE in Biddeford (ME).
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)