(Wenham MA) Neither coach could believe it.
Gordon somehow, some way rallied back to reach overtime and went from there to defeat disappointed Roger Williams, 94-91, on Saturday afternoon.
“We had a nine-point lead and two free throws with 1 ½ minutes left,” said RW coach Mike Tully afterwards. “We missed the free throws and then we panicked. We never should have lost the game.”
Gordon coach Tod Murphy was on the other side of it. “I can’t explain the win. It was a special game and we got lucky.”
The stars were surely out as three of last year’s Commonwealth Coast Conference first-teamers, Austin Coene (34 points), Garrisson Duvivier (33 points), Eric Demers (35 points) had big afternoons.
The Hawks (8-8) took a 10-9 lead to a 29-12 lead in six minutes. During this stretch the visitors from Bristol (RI) went through the GC zone for 4 layups and went over it for a three. Meanwhile, the Scots missed three 3’s and had six turnovers.
“The problem for us was that it became the Eric and Garrison Show,” explained Coach Murphy. “Yes, they can win you ballgames but if we take the other three out of the game suddenly it’s two-on-five instead of five-on-five.”
For a team on a thirteen-game win streak, a 37-28 deficit (at halftime) was far from insurmountable.
Back came the Scots (15-1) in the second half and with 5 minutes left a Parker Omslaer dunk had GC within one (63-62).
The paying-attention Gordon fan had to figure that Roger Williams was about to be passed. Gordon hadn’t lost since November……..and all that!
Coach Tully called time. His Hawks then went back to making shots and Gordon returned to just the opposite.
Two minutes later the Hawks had rattled off ten unanswered points; two 3’s by Rich Pugliese, a layup by Ian Carmichael, and a jump shot from Austin Coene.
Now it was Coach Murphy’s turn to call a timeout. With three minutes left, the Scots trailed by eleven (73-62).
Coach Murphy recalled that Garrisson Duvivier had something to say in the timeout. He told the team that it would be part of the “process of getting better. Let’s get better,” he said, “during the next three minutes.”
Coach Murphy added, “I didn’t think that we had enough time, but we did.”
Another thing that happened during that timeout was that Gordon changed to a man-to-man defense.
“We work on man-to-man every day in practice,” said Garrisson afterwards. “We needed energy and stops, and it worked out for the best.”
Freshman David Massillon was inserted into the lineup and during the final three minutes he had two steals that led to four points.
Roger Williams was held scoreless for the final three minutes and Gordon was able to rally all the way back. Eric Demers hit a big three to send the game into overtime.
Again, credit Roger Williams. They recovered from end-of-regulation lapse and jumped to a five-point lead (84-79) two minutes into the five-minute overtime.
But also, credit Gordon. They turned the final three minutes into fifteen points led by Garrisson Duvivier.
Foul trouble caught up to the Hawks and they tried to cover 6-6 Garrisson with guards including Austin Coene. That was costly because Garrisson is too much for players his size. Put a guard on him and points and free throws will follow. Top scorer Austin Coene fouled out with 1:45 left in OT and the Hawks had only a layup to show for the rest of the way. They did get a three (JJ Pfohl) at the buzzer.
“I tried to take advantage of the size difference,” said GD. “If they doubled, I had guys I could kick it out to.”
The margin was just two (90-88) for Gordon with thirty-six seconds left. The Scots held onto the ball for twenty-three seconds of the remaining time and then Eric Demers got to the rim. Garrisson went from there to block a shot down the other end and then put GC ahead 94-88 with two free throws.
“The guys never stopped believing that we were going to win,” said Garrisson. “The coaches told us things that worked.”
Coach Murphy: “You’ve got to have games like this in order to have a special season. It was silly that we waited so long to make the plays we needed to make. At least we got the wake-up bell before the game was over!”
Garrisson: “The streak (now fourteen) doesn’t matter to us. Our record doesn’t matter to us. All we care about is getting better each game. In the second half we got better.”
Noah Szilagyi finished with ten points and had an important three during the comeback in regulation.
The Gordon free throw shooting was excellent and they had plenty of opportunities. The Scots ended 26-31 for the game. During the second half? 14-for 14 and they needed every one of them.
Eric Demers had a season-high thirty-five points. That was enough to put him in 9th place on the all-time scoring list ahead of Tim Kehoe.
Garrisson’s 33 points was his second highest point production of his career. He had thirty-four against Nichols as a freshman. GD’s points today moved him beyond Doug Lindland. He’s now in second place with 1675 points. Jim Petty heads the all-time scoring list with 1902.
Garrisson added seventeen rebounds to earn his 13th double/double of this season. He tied a season high with four blocks. He also tied a season high with seven turnovers.
“At the end of the game, Garrisson took over and refused to be stopped,” said Coach Murphy.
RW’s Austin Coene had a nice stat line (34 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists) but he too had seven turnovers.
Last year at Gordon, freshman JJ Pfohl, with a 5-point average, hit the Scots with twenty-five points. In the same game Eric reached 1000 points.
Gordon has won three straight from Roger Williams.
Both teams were 18-9 last season.
Good crowd at the Bennett Center in the condensed stands. They saw a terrific game.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)