(Wenham MA) I should have learned my lesson.
Points are going to be scored in bunches.
Gordon (6-1) rode a 58-point second half to a, 99-70, Commonwealth Coast Conference win over Western New England (2-6) on Tuesday night at the Bennett Center.
Anyone in the building will tell you that the final score was very misleading. This was a 3-point game (41-38) at halftime. Gordon had dominated the first part of the half and the Bears the other part.
“The beginning of the game we were killing it,” explained senior Noah Szilagyi afterwards. Seven minutes in the score was 17-2 but WN was too good a team to let that last.
Suddenly the visitors began to drain three’s and that lead evaporated. “We gave up open three’s and against any of the teams we play, they will knock them down,” said GC coach Tod Murphy.
Things changed in the second half.
“We did a good job defensively in the second half,” explained Coach Murphy. “Our wings were getting out high and taking away the reversals. That second half was the way we want to play every single game.”
Gordon’s rediscovered ability to defend the three and discourage layups put Western New England in a bad way in the second half.
Taking the biggest hit was the Bears best player, Mikey Pettway, who entered the game as the CCC’s top scorer (25 points per game) and left Wenham with a 3-for-10 night and six points.
“The zone defense made it hard on (Mikey) Pettway,” said Coach Murphy. “He’s the engine of that team. Our goal before the game was to keep him out of the paint.”
Recall that in the first half the Scots jumped off to a 17-2 start. Second half they did better! The halftime 41-38 tight game turned into 58-38 five minutes into the second half. That’s a 17-0 run. The Bears missed their first ten shots.
“We learned from the first half,” said Coach Murphy. “Western New England called a timeout when we were up by seventeen. I didn’t say a word in the timeout. Our guys said, ‘That’s the same as we did in the first half. We’ve got to finish it.’”
And that was what they did. The spread rose into the 30’s and before it was over, thirteen Scots had scored.
Noah: “If we continue to buy in on the defensive end, I think we’ll reap the rewards on offense and it should be a good season for us.”
It’s already been a “good” season; a 6-1 record, including three wins in the conference, and a five-game win streak.
Plenty of excitement in the house, as both Garrisson Duvivier and Eric Demers were honored for reaching 1000 points last season.
Both continue to add to their career totals. Eric (1190 points) passed Joe Witherspoon and moved into 13th place on the all-time scorer’s list. Garrisson (1503) pushed past Jon Marstaller into 6th place.
Plenty of highlight plays before an excited crowd. Four Gordon jams by my count.
Eric paced GC with twenty-two points while Garrisson and Noah Szilagyi each had twenty points. Garrisson also added twelve rebounds.
The twenty points was a career high for Noah. The senior reached eighteen points twice in his freshman year.
“Coming into the starting role has been a big blessing,” he explained. “I appreciated all those times coming off the bench in previous years and having a perspective on that part of the game. I’m playing with such a talented group of guys. Nobody can be left on the floor.”
Coach Murphy sees Noah as a key to the defense. “Noah is very active and has long arms. He’s perfect for a zone defense. Deflections are a key to this defense and he’s leading the team in deflections.”
Those of us who were at the Bennett Center for Saturday’s game with Curry noticed a significant difference three days later. In the Curry game the reserves took over with a 30+ point lead in the second half. The Colonels went on a scoring rampage and much of the comfortable lead was squandered. That didn’t happen against Western New England.
“I gave the reserves a little bit of a hard time after the game on Saturday,” said Coach Murphy. “I told them that I would hold them to the same standard I held every other player to.”
Coach Murphy: “There aren’t a lot of D3 programs that have the length that we have. The game is turning into shooting 3’s and shooting layups. The zone is intended to take away 3’s and when you’ve got two shot blockers inside you take away layups too. We’re trying to force teams to made mid-range shots and so far it has worked for us.”
Ahead are two non-conference games with Colby (Thursday) and Johnson & Wales (Saturday) both at home. “The next two games will be monsters,” said Coach Murphy. “Colby has size and they’re a lot like Endicott. It will give us a chance to see if the zone will work against teams like that.”
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)