(Wenham MA) Nichols has lost once in November (Franklin Pierce), December (Endicott), and January (Western New England).
February’s loss hasn’t happened yet although Gordon made a terrific run at doing just that tonight at the Bennett Center.
The Bison (21-3), however, did prevail 95-91 and their win streak reaches thirteen.
Nichols will head into the Commonwealth Coast Conference playoffs (next Tuesday) as the #1 seed and certainly a favorite to win their first CCC basketball title.
The Bison have been the #1 seed the last two seasons and fallen short of the championship each time. Two years ago the Scots did it to them in the championship game at Dudley. Last year it was UNE in the first round.
Tonight’s game was another of those coulda/shoulda affairs. The Scots (11-13) certainly played well enough to win although it certainly didn’t look that way in the first half.
The team that hadn’t lost since January 7th came out free and easy draining three’s and running up a double-digit lead and was ahead 53-41 at halftime.
No reason to think that Gordon could slow the pace in the second half. The hope was that better defense and some Bison misses would combine……..and they did.
I don’t think I’ve seen better Gordon basketball than I saw the first 11+ minutes of the second half. There was terrific defense and Nichols got very few clean looks. Drives to the basket saw rejections from Sam Johnson, Udoka Obiora, and Garrisson Duvivier.
We watched the team that had been down by thirteen in the first half outscore highly regarded Nichols, 33-12, and grab a nine-point (74-65) lead. There were some wonderful passes, setting up layups, and a significant overdose of Garrisson Duvivier around the basket.
Garrisson had a career high in points (34) against the best team in the CCC. If there is a place that Nichols is vulnerable it is in close where their lack of size and depth shows up. It did in this game.
Devin Stallings (20 points) is a very good 6-4 athlete. However, trying to contain Garrisson got him into foul trouble midway into the second half. Players with four fouls defend differently and they also stop driving to the basket for fear of a charge.
The hard part for the GC faithful was the way the home team couldn’t hold onto that nine-point lead. It took Nichols five minutes but they eventually got even. And it wasn’t so much that NC made a lot of shots it was that GC couldn’t capitalize on the makeable shots they turned up.
Gordon was still in this one up 89-88 with 1:57 left. Visions of a huge upset faded away the rest of the game. The only points GC got were two Richie Armand free throws. Meanwhile NC’s Marco Echevarria made six straight free throws and had a steal. Gordon missed two free throws, two jump shots, and had three turnovers to close the game out.
It was tough to watch but nothing can be taken away from the fact that the Scots had given a very good team plenty of trouble.
A couple things of note from where I was watching: GC took its fewest 3’s of the season (9) and Jake Hart had the best game of his Gordon life.
The three’s, you know I’m not a fan, in quantity make sense if you don’t have much of an inside game. The Scots are as good as it gets inside. The interior foursome (Garrisson, Sam, Udoka Obiora, and Graham Tienhaara) chase rebounds relentlessly and can block shots. They can also score. Most of the fifty-four points in the paint came from that foursome. Why marry the long-range shot when there are plenty of high-percentage shot points available?
A key to the Scots being around in this game was sophomore Jake Hart. He seemed extremely comfortable with the “Nichol’s” tempo…….full-speed. In this evening, Jake filled the stat sheet with 9 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds.
Gordon has now lost three straight. However, in two of those games (Wentworth, Nichols) the efficiency chart had GC as the better team. Those teams could be on the road ahead in the CCC playoffs. I like our chances.
Richie Armand and Udoka Obiora were honored before the game. Hard to believe that they are seniors. Richie refuses to shoot but defends well and seems to have the knack of making the offense be productive. Udoka is easily the most improved player on the team. He has developed a contributing smoothness on both ends of the court.
Real proud of the whole team against Nichols. So many little things need to go right to rally back and stay with a very fine team like Nichols and it was great to watch it happen.
Garrisson Duvivier 35 (34 points/11 rebounds)
Irving Eggleston 26 (26 points/3 steals)
Devin Stallings 24 (20 points)
Jake Hart 23 (9 points/9 assists/8 rebounds)
Sam Johnson 16 (12 points/9 rebounds)
The Scots shot 56.5% for the game including 62.1% in the second half.
Next is the last conference game. The opponent is winless Curry at Curry.
Gordon is currently tied with Roger Williams in 5th place. The Hawks hold the tie-breaker but they have Wentworth away in their final game. WIT defeated Endicott in overtime tonight on a last-second three by Jason Ganley.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)