(Worcester MA) It took Nichols three minutes to score a point.
Later, they went through another three-minute segment in which Gordon outscored them, 17-4.
The other thirty-four minutes? Nichols poured out the points freely and overpowered Gordon, 105-90, to capture a third straight Commonwealth Coast Conference tournament title on Saturday night at the spacious Hart Center on the campus of Holy Cross.
The Scots (23-5) fell behind nine minutes into the game and unsuccessfully chased the Bison (25-2) the rest of the way.
DeAnte Burton (32 points) and Marcos Echevarria (31 points) feasted on the GC zone defense.
“Gordon is a tough team,” said Marcos Echevarria afterwards. “They played a 2-3 zone and they knew we have struggled against it. We worked on it in practice. We tried to get the ball to DeAnte (Bruton) or in my hands and run pick-and-rolls. It worked out for the best.”
Marcos reached 2,434 career points in the game and became the leading scorer in CCC history.
Sometimes statistics can be misleading but not in this game. “We couldn’t get stops but we also had a lot of bad turnovers and gave up some second shots,” said Gordon coach Tod Murphy.
The Scots had twenty-one turnovers against a team that didn’t press. The Bison jumped passing lanes and had fourteen steals.
Second shots? This was the killer stat: NC had nineteen more shots than Gordon. Their nineteen offensive rebounds were a season-high against the Scots.
Gordon’s shining moments were in the three minutes right after they fell behind, 46-30, late in the first half. The Scots went on a 17-4 tear.
This segment of excellent GC basketball included an Eric Demers triple, free throws by Garrisson Duvivier, and crowd-pleasing dunks by David Massillon and Garrisson at the half’s end.
The good roll continued as GC started the second half with another dunk by Garrisson, and three’s by Garrisson and Eric.
This crowd-pleasing assortment of good offense tightened things considerably to, 50-47, but not for long.
The bad stats referenced earlier kicked in and the Scots lost ground thereafter rapidly. Over the final nineteen minutes the team from Dudley (MA) poured in fifty-five points.
Nichols was the only team to score over one hundred points against the Scots in a game…….and they did it twice.
“Our guys were unselfish, sharing the ball and creating great opportunities for each other,” said Nichols coach Scott Faucher postgame. “The ball was moving. We found each other. We got good looks.”
“We tried to play a little more matchup zone,” said Coach Murphy, “but they recognized it and started running pick-and-rolls. They are a great team.”
“We sent Marcos (Echevarria) out on a good note,” explained Nate Tenaglia. “Now we’re going to get ready for the NCAA tournament.”
“We’ve gotten knocked out early (in the NCAA’s) the past two years,” said Marcos. “This is my senior year, and this is our time to do better.”
Garrisson Duvivier ended a remarkable career with; 26 points, 8 assists, 3 blocks, and 3 steals. He leaves as Gordon’s all-time leading scorer.
Eric Demers produced 24 points and was 6-for-12 from long range.
Freshman David Massillon showed another glimpse of what he’s capable of with ten points and eight rebounds in short minutes.
The Bison go into the NCAA tournament on a fourteen-game win streak. Last loss? January 7th to Gordon.
Nichols is 95-11 during the last six CCC regular seasons. They have been in the CCC championship game for six straight seasons. Did I mention that they are very good?
Using the Hart Center at Holy Cross for the title game was a stroke of genius by whoever was responsible. Over 2,000 people got an in-person look at a terrific game. The Nichols gymnasium seats about 300 people.
“The atmosphere here was crazy,” said Nate Tenaglia. “I’ve never seen anything like it before. It was fun to play in. The past two years (at Nichols) they had to turn people away. All my family and friends were here for this one.”
Gordon AD Jon Tymann graced my wife and I with front row seats. Only fear was someone diving out of bounds into our laps!
“It was a great season,” said Coach Murphy. “The memories I have of these seniors is that they’ve done more for me than I could ever imagine.”
My plan is to get one more look at the seniors at graduation in May.
As the Gordon players filed out of the somber locker room, Coach Murphy had a hug and words for each of them. One of the seniors said, “Coach, you’ve made me a better person. Thanks.”
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)