(Beverly MA) The atmosphere was at the tournament level.
Large crowd and a persistent noise that elevated or dropped as each possession ended.
Fortunately for Gordon, the tournament atmosphere wasn’t the real thing. They did lose to Endicott (80-71) on Saturday afternoon but it was “only” a regular season game.
The Commonwealth Coast Conference tourney begins on Tuesday: Gordon (21-4) hosts Wentworth while Western New England will be coming to Endicott (17-8).
In early January, when the Scots faced Nichols and Endicott in back-to-back games, there was reason for concern. Nichols had ten straight wins versus Gordon while Endicott had eliminated the Scots from the CCC tournament the previous year.
But Gordon won those games and the victories became part of a fifteen-game winning streak.
But that was in January.
Now, in February the repeat of the back-to-backs hasn’t gone well. The Scots carry a two-game losing streak as they head into the tournament on Tuesday night at the Bennett Center.
“We’ve got a very good team,” said Gordon coach Tod Murphy after the loss. “We’ve had a bad week. If we’ll stay together and play together, we’ll win together.”
Endicott came into today’s game on a two-game slide after losses to Roger Williams and Western New England.
“We’ve had a couple of tough losses,” explained Endicott coach Kevin Bettencourt, “but we had answers today. It hasn’t always been that way.”
The large Senior’s Day crowd saw the top two teams in the conference in 3-point shooting percentage.
On this afternoon, however, the long-range shot was pure gold for the Gulls (17-for-36) and fool’s gold (4-for-20) for the team from Wenham.
“We didn’t defend in the first half,” said Coach Murphy describing his team’s zone defense. “We gave them too many 3-point shots. Most of them were open looks.”
Sophomore Matt McDevitt (20 points) connected six times (in eleven tries) from beyond the arc. Matt had a similar performance in the CCC tourney last year against Gordon. However, in EC’s January loss to GC, Matt was 0-for-6 on three’s and finished with only two points. Hard to figure the extremes!
Much of today’s game was played at the one-possession level. Gordon, however, was usually the team needing a good possession to catch up.
Because of suspect outside shooting, the Scots concentrated on creating offense through Garrisson Duvivier in close. With less concern over long shots, the Gulls could send help to protect the inside.
Garrisson still managed twenty points against the tight defense of seniors Vinny Clifford and Nick Thibeault.
“Garrisson is one of the best players we’ve had to guard in my five years,” said Coach Bettencourt. “Vinny/Nick did great. He had to work for everything he got.”
With 4:10 left, the Gulls had a slender, 72-70, lead.
Where the game was lost? The Scots had just one point the rest of the way and it wasn’t for lack of opportunities. Four missed three’s and two turnovers ruined any GC comeback plans.
The Gulls, on the other hand, turned up good offense down the stretch. A layup (Matt McDevitt) and two free throws (Jordan Pettway) boosted the EC lead to six (76-70) and then two killer three’s (Keith Brown & Vinny Clifford) sealed the deal for the home team.
“Garrisson and Eric (Demers) didn’t look like they had their legs today,” said Coach Murphy. “I’ve probably been playing them too many minutes but it’s the end of the season and we need guys to dig down deep right now.”
Junior Keith Brown led Endicott with twenty-five points on 10-for-15 shooting. He also handed out five assists. The Gulls finished with twenty assists.
Garrisson Duvivier put thirteen rebounds together with his twenty points.
Rough afternoon for junior Eric Demers. Despite getting eighteen points, it took him twenty-one shots to get there. He was a very uncharacteristic 1-for-10 from beyond the arc.
Senior Noah Szilagyi continued his hot shooting making six of nine attempts for fifteen points.
Endicott honored seniors; John Homsey, Nick Thibeault, Vinny Clifford, and Joe Shehadi before the game.
Both teams had plenty of vocal fan support on hand.
Coach Bettencourt: “We’re hoping to carry this momentum into next week.”
Coach Murphy: “We can still go out there and win three in a row and get to the NCAA tournament.”
Delighted to see the Gordon women pull the upset of the year in the CCC with a 62-60 thriller over first-place Endicott. It was in February of 2005 that Gordon’s last win over EC happened in the CCC semifinals. Fourteen years!
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)