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Nichols takes 3rd straight CCC title 105-90 over Gordon

Nichols begins to celebrate a third straight CCC title

Three straight for Nichols

(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.

Marcos Echevarria – 31 points and 9 assists

DeAnte Bruton – 32 points, 5 assists, 4 steals

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.

Gordon awaits the awards ceremony

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.

Garrisson Duvivier jams

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.

Nate Tenaglia and Eric Demers

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.”

Marcos Echevarria uses a screen

“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.

Josiah Kimball and David Massillon

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?

Young Nichols fan

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!

Jake Haar defends

“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.”

Box from the game

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Bajemas in the crowd

Ball on the floor

DeAnte Bruton and Noah Szilagyi

Eric Demers in front of the Gordon crowd

Garrisson Duvivier – Gordon’s all-time leading scorer

Garrisson Duvivier tightly guarded by Matt Morrow

Jerome Cunningham leads a break

Josh Ribeiro gets back on defense

 

 

 

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Nichols cools Gordon 107-93 to claim regular season title

DeAnte Bruton (27 points) breaks after a Gordon turnover

Garrisson Duvivier (34 points) powers to the hoop over Matt Morrow

(Wenham MA) Big game.

Big crowd.

Big disappointment.

Nichols (22-2) never trailed defeating Gordon (21-3) 107-93 before the season’s best crowd at the Bennett Center on Wednesday night.

The win gives the Bison a bye in the Commonwealth Coast Conference quarterfinals next Tuesday.

The Scots will get the #8 seed at home on Tuesday at the Bennett Center.

Gordon had won an earlier meeting between the two teams (76-72) at Dudley (MA) in January.

The Scots put up plenty of points tonight but never could slow Nichols down enough on the defensive end to make the game close in crunch time.

The Bison had three starters score in the twenties; DeAnte Bruton (27), Marcos Echevarria (26), and Matt Morrow (21).  6-8 Jerome Cunningham ended with fourteen points and had five assists.

Nate Tenaglia shadowed Eric Demers

The key player for Nichols may well have been the other starter, sophomore Nate Tenaglia.  Nate was assigned to cover Eric Demers.

“Nate is as tough as it gets,” said Nichols coach Scott Faucher afterwards.  “He loves guarding the other team’s best player.”

Eric again finished with 32 points but needed twenty-nine shots to get there. Last time, with Nate not playing, Eric was a warm 10-for-21.

“He (Eric Demers) is tough to guard,” explained Nate. “He hit some shots down the end, but I held him to nine points in the first half.”

The Bison were much more patient against the Gordon zone than they were last time.  “We were sharing the ball offensively,” said Coach Faucher.  “We got a lot of in-rhythm shots which is what we wanted.”

Noah Szilagyi eyes the Nichols defense

Gordon coach Tod Murphy reflected on the loss: “It’s one loss.  Tonight was their night.  They deserved to win.  We beat them at their place so now we’re even.  We’ve proven that we can beat them on their court so if it comes down to that we’ll have another opportunity.”

Nichols shooting was certainly improved over last time, but their defense was also.  The Scots had fifteen turnovers, but the killer stat connected to the miscues was that the Bison turned those mistakes into 29 points.  Nichols had ten steals.

“If we take away our mental mistakes and turnovers, we would have been right with them,” added Coach Murphy.

Garrisson Duvivier and Jerome Cunningham

The Scots had very few open shots but that didn’t stop them from putting up points.  6-6 Garrisson Duvivier saw plenty of 6-8 Matt Morrow and 6-8 Jerome Cunningham but still managed 34 points and 15 rebounds.  Last time Garrisson was able to get the NC big men in foul trouble but not this time.

The stats declare that this was GD’s best game of the season.  He had only three turnovers and shot an impressive 15-for-24.

I thought that Garrisson might not have enough season left to catch Jim Petty (1902 points) as the all-time leading Gordon scorer.  Not so fast.  Garrisson, with tonight’s 34 points, is at 1843.  He’s 59 points away.  Endicott on Saturday and a run of tournament games might be enough.

Eric made another pass tonight with his thirty-two points.  He moved by Aaron Trigg (honored at Homecoming) into 5th place.

Marcos Echevarria (26 points) looks for a pass

Gordon takes on Endicott on Saturday to end the regular season.  The Gulls ran into the same Western New England team tonight (and lost badly) that defeated Gordon in January.

A win or a loss against Endicott will not change Gordon’s spot, as the #2 seed, in the CCC tournament.

Play the Endicott game a little differently as a result?  “Not a chance,” said Coach Murphy.  “It’s Endicott.  We’re going to be preparing for the tournament starting Saturday.”

Coach Faucher: “Our guys played with a lot of energy.  We defended.  They wanted this one.  Gordon is a good team.  They’re as tough as anyone.”

Nichols has been a very good team for a while.  This is their 6th straight season with at least twenty wins.  They have shared or won the CCC regular season title for the last six years.  Their record during the regular season over the past 5+ years?  94-11!

But one of those eleven losses was to Gordon at Nichols.  Will there be a rematch a week from Saturday? Stay tuned.

Box from the game

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

David Massillon drives the lane

Eric Demers (32 points) gets an opening

Garrisson Duvivier tightly guarded by Josiah Kimball

Jake Haar chases a loose ball

Jerome Cunningham and Parker Omslaer

Josh Crutchfield and Marcos Echevarria

Marcos Echevarria (4) lifts a three in front of the Gordon crowd

Eric Demers and Nate Tenaglia

 

 

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Streaking Gordon stuns Nichols 76-72 for 12th straight

Eric Demers had a season-high 32 points including 21 in the second half.

(Amesbury MA) March 1, 2014.

Long time ago.

I was out in Dudley (MA) that afternoon when Gordon stunned Nichols to win the Commonwealth Coast Conference tournament.

After that?  Eight straight losses to the Bison.

But this year’s Scots (13-1) put an end to all that with a 76-72 W this afternoon.

Nichols (11-2) has won the regular-season CCC title the last five seasons.  Their league record during that time?  80-10!  The Scots were not in the “10” side of it, in fact, some of their most lopsided losses have been to NC.

Today’s result, however, temporarily erased those bad memories and put Gordon all by its lonesome atop the CCC standings with a 5-0 record.

Hold the celebration plans!  There’s a ton of season left starting with the neighbors (Endicott) at the Bennett Center on Thursday night.

How did Gordon defeat Nichols?  Give their zone defense some credit.  It changed the offensive dynamics for the home team.

The Bison love to get to the basket or make three’s and they have the speed and shooters to do it.  But this afternoon the zone took away most of the NC uncontested layups.  That left the long-distance approach for the Bison and today they missed 24-of-31 triple tries.

I saw UNE beat Nichols last year at Biddeford.  In that one, Nichols tried to force their style on the non-stop Nor’Easters and couldn’t do it.  Today there was 2-point gold available for them between 3-point range and layups, but the Bison turned down 2-point jump shots inside the foul line most of the game.  Stubborn and it cost them.

Give Eric Demers a ton of credit for the big win.  No sooner had I raved about his “best I’ve ever seen” half against UNE on Thursday, when he tops it two days later!

Eric’s second-half line was this: 21 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and 5-of-6 free throws in the last minute.

Eric (32 points) gave Gordon the lead, 69-67, using a screen to get the go-ahead jump shot.

During Nichols next four possessions they tried to force layups twice where plenty of GC defense was already in place.  They also launched two unsuccessful three’s.  No interest in the short jumpers in the lane.

Meanwhile, Eric attempted a three, got fouled and nailed all three attempts.  72-67.

Another NC miss and another Parker Omslaer rebound.  He had a career game in that category with sixteen of them.  Parker made one free throw with 28 seconds left.  73-67.

The Scots had the margin they needed to go on to a 76-72 win.

Garrisson Duvivier finished with another double/double and believe me there was nothing easy around the basket.  But that didn’t deter GD from attempting shots and drawing fouls.  Garrisson had a lot to do with getting NC’s best big man (Jerome Cunningham) out of the game early on fouls with 3:46 left.

Jake Haar regained his scoring touch (14 points on 5-for-10 shooting) after going a combined 2-12 against ENC and UNE.  The Scots have been good at getting Jake open looks out of set plays.

Senior Marcos Echevarria had a quiet (for him) twelve points.  Marcos recently became Nichols all-time leading scorer.  Today Marcos was slowed down a bit by a thigh injury.

Garrisson (1628) moved past Woody Anderson (1622) today into 3rd place on Gordon’s all-time list.

Today’s pleasant surprise extends the Gordon win streak to twelve.

Nichols has had five seasons in a row with 20+ wins.  During the last 5+ years they are 128-29!  Beating them today was something special.

I enjoyed the win but those twelve missed free throws were unnerving.  Practice, practice, practice.

Box from the game

 

 

 

 

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Nichols wins eighth straight over Gordon 97-74

Daequon Antoine (24 points) underhands a layup

Nichols coach Tom Glynn looks on as Marcos Echevarria (22 points) heads to the baseline

(Wenham MA) Some teams you just can’t beat.

Nichols has become one of those for Gordon.  The Scots have lost eight straight times to the Bison.

The last win against them is starting to become a distant memory but it will never go away.  That was the game in which Gordon won the Commonwealth Coast Conference title in March of 2014.

Nichols has lost two CCC games this year.  Watching them demolish Gordon this afternoon, 97-74, you wonder how that is possible.

But upon reflection, you realize that the Scots have been having games like Nichols had today, most of January.

Tyler Dion – One of the five starters scoring double figures

The winning difference?  Shots steadily falling.

Gordon has had some successful shootouts this month.  This wasn’t one of them.

“Nichols definitely felt it this afternoon,” said GC coach Tod Murphy.

All five Bison starters reached double digits.

The bad-news stat was that the visitors had sixteen offensive rebounds and seventeen second-chance points.  The Scots were not good on the boards!

Gordon totaled only thirty-three rebounds which was a season low.

Factor this: the Bison were without the CCC’s #3 rebounder (Jerome Cunningham) and yet they dominated the Scots on the glass anyhow.  “I would like to think that we would have had a better game if he (Jerome Cunningham) had played but I don’t think that that is possible,” said Coach Murphy.

Gordon’s Eric Demers (29 points) continues to be a player capable of getting his points against any defense.  Eric saw plenty of Marcos Echevarria’s tight defense today but still put up points.

Eric Demers ended up with 29 points

Meanwhile, down the other end, Nichols (16-3) worked their way into great looks and cashed them mercilessly. Senior Daequon Antoine led the Bison with eleven in the first and thirteen in the second.

Marcos Echevarria notched eighteen points in the second half.

Garrisson Duvivier stretched his run of double/doubles to eight with twelve points and eleven rebounds.  The Bison were tough inside and Garrisson earned everything he got.

Quietly, in this game, Garrisson slipped into 11th place on the GC all-time scorer’s list.  Tonight’s 12 got him past Mike Herr and gives Garrisson a total of 1242 career points.

My college friend/teammate and a member of our wedding party, Gene Fitzgerald, is currently in 10th place with 1297 points.  With six regular-season games left, plus the tournament, I think it is safe to say that Gene’s hold on the 10th spot may not last the season.

Nichols’ Jerome Cunningham told me before the game that he is out with a concussion but expects to return to playing next week.

Garrisson Duvivier is now GC’s 11th all-time leading scorer

“The only good news out of this game is that it counts as one loss instead of four or five,” said Coach Murphy. “We will certainly lose a lot of games playing like we did today.”

The consistent NC offense gained significant separation in both halves.

In the first half, the Bison transformed a 22-16 advantage into a 34-16 advantage by making four-of-five shots over 3+ minutes while GC countered with a missed three and three turnovers.

Six minutes into the second half Gordon was within ten (57-47) but again off went Nichols.  They made fields goals in five straight possessions while the Scots were one-of-four and had a turnover in their five possessions.  The lead became twenty (69-49) after this and a good Bennett Center crowd had little to cheer about the rest of the way.

I asked Coach Murphy how you recover from a loss like today’s: “It’s only one loss.  That’s the only way we can look at it.  We’ve got to think about the things we did poorly and get better the next time.”

Next game for the Scots is Tuesday night at home against Wentworth (7:30PM).  The Leopards are also 8-4 in league play.  They lost today to ENC.  The Leopards trailed by three late in the game.  Jason Ganley was fouled shooting a three with three seconds left. Jason made the first two but missed the third.

Efficiency Chart

Daequon Antoine 31 (24 pts,7 reb, 4 steals)

Eric Demers 25 (29 pts)

Marcos Echevarria 21 (22 pts, 4 assists)

Garrisson Duvivier 17 (5 blocks, 12 pts, 11 reb)

DeAnte Bruton 17 (15 pts, 4 assists)

Nichols 112

Gordon 82

Box from the game

(The pictures will enlarge when you click on them.)

Parker Omslaer gets a first-half jam

Eric Demers (29 pts) guarded by Marcos Echevarria

Matt Valles (35) tries covering Daequon Antoine

Action under the basket

Matt Morrow (10 points) finishes

Under the basket

Graham Tienhaara guards Dakota Nicoll

Avelino Damoura and Nate Tenaglia

 

 

 

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Marcos Echevarria (25 points) beats Gordon at the buzzer 85-84

Turnovers hurt the Scots. Here Marcos Echevarria breaks away with one.

Turnovers hurt the Scots. Here Marcos Echevarria breaks away with one.

Marcos Echevarria (25 points) penetrates the Gordon defense

Marcos Echevarria (25 points) penetrates the Gordon defense

(Wenham MA) You just knew that he would get the last shot.

Marcos Echevarria (25 points) had nine seconds to get the shot he wanted and his last-second connection was enough to give Nichols an 85-84 win over Gordon on Tuesday night.

Marcos leads the Commonwealth Coast Conference in scoring (26 PPG) and despite a troublesome back made plays on both ends.

Tough loss for Gordon.  The Scots (6-5) had a four-point lead (82-78) with 1:15 left.

Next possession scrappy Nichols (9-2) hustled their way to a three-shot possession that ended with a DeAnte Bruton (22 points) 3-pointer.  A GC rebound there and NC would have to foul and GC would have had a chance to build on their 4-point spread.

Gordon, however, still had a one-point lead and that was still in place after Marcos and Garrisson Duvivier (23 points) had matching sets of free throws.

That put the game into Marcos’ hands for the last shot with nine seconds to use.  His ability to hit free throws, get to the basket, or make three’s, made him a serious defensive problem for GC.ncgc-a18-ws-1ncgc-a19-ws-2ncgc-a19-ws-3

As the pictures show, Marcos split two defenders and found a narrow window to shoot over shot-blocker Garrisson and win the game just before the final horn sounded.  If the Scots had gotten a rebound in NC’s 3-shot possession they would never have been in this high-risk defensive predicament.

There was some contact

There was some contact

In the first half, the Scots were able to smoothly handle NC’s full-court zone pressure.  Second half the Bison switched to full-court man-to-man pressure with double-teams on dribblers and made it work.

Eric Demers (7 turnovers) and Jaren Yang (5 turnovers) were on the receiving end of much of NC’s pressure.

Gordon has now lost five straight times to Nichols.

The Bison style of play is predictable.  They will put up 3’s, press, and fast break. I noticed that NC opened up some great-look three’s by penetrating into the lane and then passing outside.  NC’s twelve made three’s were a season high against Gordon.

If Marcos had missed that last shot I wouldn’t have been waiting this long to rave about the play of Garrisson and Sam Johnson.  You go in knowing that these two will give you rebounds and points around the basket.  Tonight we saw some stellar shot-blocking.  The talented two-some combined for seven blocks against the quick Bison.

Garrisson Duvivier (23 points) also had three blocks

Garrisson Duvivier (23 points) also had three blocks

Gordon had an eleven-point lead (64-53) at 12:33 of the second half.  Two + minutes later the score was tied.  The Scots missed four shots and had two turnovers during the lapse.  Against a scoring team like Nichols the lapses erase a bunch of good offense in a hurry.

The Scots have now lost three straight.  Things will not get any easier next game when they travel to Beverly to face Endicott on Thursday night.  The Gulls (9-2) won the CCC last year and were not hurt by graduation.  Nice place for an upset!

It appeared to me that there were more Nichols fans at the Bennett Center than Gordon fans.  Marcos Echevarria is from nearby Lynn (MA) and I think he had a significant following on hand.  They had plenty to cheer about in the second half in which Marcos scored eighteen points, made four 3’s, and had three steals.

Efficiency

Garrisson Duvivier 28 (23 points, 4 assists, 3 blocks)

Sam Johnson 26 (13 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks)

Marcos Echevarria 22 (25 points, 4 assists)

DeAnte Bruton 16 (22 points, 6 assists)

Eric Demers 14 (19 points)

Nichols 98 (19 assists, 8 steals)

Gordon 108

Box from the game

Alisha Henderson

Alisha Henderson

Meghan Foley

Meghan Foley

I have to say some things about the GC women’s game.  The women defeated Nichols, 80-75, in overtime.  The play of freshmen Alisha Henderson (14 points) and Meghan Foley (21 points) in that OT was noteworthy.  Alisha had a stretch where she made a three from NBA distance, followed that with a layup, and then assisted on a Kristen Smith basket.  Teammate Meghan was at the foul line twice in the last eleven seconds and drained 4-of-4 to seal the win.

Looking at the women’s archives reveals how special this season has been.  The Scots now have three CCC wins.  The last seven seasons they never had more than two wins in a season in the CCC.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Marcos Echevarria and Garrisson Duvivier

Marcos Echevarria and Garrisson Duvivier

Marcos Echevarria in heavy traffic

Marcos Echevarria in heavy traffic

Jerome Cunningham sets for a breakaway jam

Jerome Cunningham sets for a breakaway jam

Devin Stallings goes for a block

Devin Stallings goes for a block

Back pain for Marcos Echevarria

Back pain for Marcos Echevarria

Sam Johnson blocks

Sam Johnson blocks

DeAnte Bruton (22 points, six assists)

DeAnte Bruton (22 points, six assists)

Noah Szilagyi tries a three

Noah Szilagyi tries a three

Brandon Marshall at the rim

Brandon Marshall at the rim

Josh Ribeiro gets to the rim

Josh Ribeiro gets to the rim

Jerome Cunningham and Garrisson Duviver

Jerome Cunningham and Garrisson Duviver

 

 

 

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