By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) This was a game with eleven lead changes in regulation and about as fast-paced and exciting as you would want a game to be. However, in the five minute overtime Bates took over immediately, running up eight straight points in the first three minutes, and cruised home with an, 82-74, win at the Bennett Center on Tuesday night.
This was a nonleague game but it was real interesting to watch two of the heavyweights in the region go at it. Bates, now 18-4, has been in the top 25 nationally this season in Division 3. While Gordon, now 15-6, has the best record in the Commonwealth Coast Conference.
Both teams shot very well in regulation and Gordon seemed to feed off the sizable Blue Sea cheering section. The Scots built up a number of leads (17-9, 26-22, 39-32, in the first half and 57-51 in the second half) only to have the visiting Bobcats fight back thanks especially to the efforts of their two terrific seniors, Zak Ray and Rob Stockwell.
Both Ray and Stockwell have scored over 1000 points in their careers at Bates. In this one the amazingly quick 5’11” Ray tallied 23 points even with Jerry Logan (Marietta, GA) hounding him.
Stockwell at 6’5” dominated the inside grabbing 15 rebounds to go along with 19 points. Any number of times he could have added to that point total but handed out seven assists instead. He also had three steals.
Despite how good Bates was Gordon came very, very close to winning the game in regulation and that is what will be a painful memory for the Scot faithful on hand.
After Rob Stockwell made one of two free throws with 32 seconds left Bates had a 69-67 edge. That gave the Scots plenty of time to get organized. They worked the perimeter before freshman Brady Bajema (Whitinsville, MA) delivered the ball inside to junior Jon Marstaller (Naples,Me). Jon spun left for a shot that went around the rim and out with 4.9 seconds to go. To the cheers of the home crowd and overcoming an icing attempt timeout by the Bobcats the Gordon junior made both pressure shots. Zak Ray then raced up the court and missed a wild three and the game went into overtime.
Those of us into the “what if’s” could only imagine what would have happened if Jon had made the shot that rimmed out and added the free throw.
Gordon Coach Mike Schauer was eager to resist being negative after the loss. “We played every bit as well as we did against UNE and Curry. It’s just that Bates is a lot better and plays a lot harder. So I’m not disappointed at all.”
The Scots return to CCC play this Saturday at 1PM (note the earlier time) at Colby-Sawyer. C-S lost to Curry tonight at C-S. The Chargers get to play at Endicott on Thursday night. It might be a good one to check out if you’re in the area.
“Winning or losing against Bates wouldn’t change our conference goals,” said Coach Schauer afterwards. “We still have to go to Colby-Sawyer and find a way to win.”
Bates Coach Joe Reilly was impressed with Gordon. “They can do it all. They can penetrate. They can score. (Jon) Marstaller and Mike Herr are very good players. They are one of the best teams in the region.”
Like Gordon Bates has the best home crowd support in their conference (NESCAC). “It was a good, loud crowd,” said Coach Reilly. “Nice college atmosphere.”
Mike Herr (Lampeter,PA) collected 17 points which was his biggest output since he had 26 points the last time Gordon faced Colby-Sawyer on January 9th at home. The five 3’s he had against the Bobcats were the most he’s had in a game since he had six against MIT in November. Let’s hope his long-range shooting touch is here to stay.
The Bobcats were very effective on defense. They registered 12 steals which is the most anyone has gotten against the Scots this year. A number of those steals were turned into fastbreak layups.
Bates tried a zone defense late in the game and in the overtime and it surprised this writer that the zone was effective and even caused a number of turnovers. You would assume that a good-shooting team such as Gordon would feast on a zone but it didn’t work out that way.
“We took a chance with that zone,” explained Coach Riley. “We don’t use it much or practice it very much but I went with our veterans. They know what the expectations are and what their responsibilities are.”
“It was funny that the zone bothered us,” said Coach Schauer. “We obviously practice a lot against it. In a couple of instances we had guys pass up shots.” I think that it was the quickness in which Bates shifted around in that zone that made it troublesome for Gordon.
Gordon has four games left – Colby-Sawyer & Endicott away followed by Anna Maria & UNE at home. “If we play like we did tonight against Bates in our remaining games I think our chances are pretty good,” added Coach Schauer.
What will certainly help the team’s chances the rest of the way will be to cut back on the turnovers. The 18 turnovers the team had tonight were the second highest of the season. How unusual it was for our normally sure-handed guards to have nine turnovers between them.
The next two games are against the teams (Colby-Sawyer & Endicott) that have dominated the CCC for the last six years. Colby-Sawyer is always tough at home and I don’t think we’ve ever won at Endicott. However, the way the Scots are playing they are capable of having command of the CCC a week from tonight. Let’s hope so.
(Morning) After Thoughts – That’s four overtime games this season (Philadelphia Bible,Salem State,Nichols,Bates). Getting off to a good start in the overtimes has been the difference maker…………Jerry Logan’s opening three attempt in OT was deflected but not detected by three important observers……………Freshman Chris Wilson (Brewer,ME) ended up at Bates but Coach Schauer said that they “recruited him some.”……………Zak Ray (Bangor,ME) is NBA quick. Mike Schnackenberg (South Portland/Cheverus) played against him in a Maine state championship. I’ll leave the details to Mike……………I continue to be surprised by the number of times frontcourt inbounds plays turn into baskets…………Gordon foul shooting has scared me plenty this season in crunch time. That’s why it was so impressive to see Jon Marstaller make both of his with the game on the line in regulation…………Every now and then it’s good to stop and look at the level Gordon basketball has reached. In the CCC there isn’t a team that the Scots haven’t beaten and cannot beat if playing well. The team and its fans expect to win. Going 15-1 in the CCC last year and 10-2 so far this season will do that to you……………So much of the Gordon success has to do with coaching. Mike Schauer and Jeremy Martin have made the Scots a force by managing efficiently every detail of building a program that we can be proud of. I talk to other coaches after almost every game and hear often that Gordon is “well coached” and that compliment is not said in a pandering manner. The only flaw that I’ve noticed about the coaching staff this season was Jeremy Martin crossing into Maine wearing a pink tie. That was irresponsible and dangerous……… Obstacles ahead. Is this the year that a short trip to Beverly can finally end the team’s losing streak at Endicott? In two weeks the first round of the CCC tournament will be over. I want to be writing about a Gordon victory in the championship game in that tournament two weeks from Saturday.