(Wenham) Maybe it was having Gordon’s all-time men’s scoring leader (Jim Petty) in the house. Whatever it was, the Scots put on the best shooting show that I can remember as they blew out the visiting Curry Colonels, 93-63, at the Bennett Center on Saturday afternoon in an important Commonwealth Coast Conference game.
“Obviously, if you shoot it the way we did the game gets pretty easy,” explained Gordon coach Mike Schauer afterwards.
The Scots ended up a sizzling 65.2% (34 for 52) for the game including a remarkable 15-for-23 from long range. Those 15 three’s look especially impressive when you realize that Gordon’s previous best total in a game from long distance had been nine.
“This is why you want to finish ahead of Gordon in the conference,” explained Curry coach Malcolm Wynn. “To play them here (in the CCC tournament) is an unfair advantage. I can’t understand what happens to them on the road.”
The victory puts Gordon at 12-4 overall and, more important, makes their record 4-2 in the CCC. After a tough two-game losing streak (ENC and Roger Williams) on the road the Scots were at a crucial juncture in their season. “We needed an effort like that,” said Coach Schauer. “We’ve been struggling offensively. It was nice to break out of it a little bit.”
That’s not a typo. He did say a “little” bit. Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) – 25 points. Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA) – so hot from downtown in the second half that the New Blue Sea started chanting his name. And those are just the highlights. Good shooting broke out all over the place and the sizable crowd of returning students had plenty to cheer about.
The outside shooting was terrific but the key to this game was on the inside for both teams.
“I really challenged Jon (Marstaller),” said Coach Schauer. “He’s coasted through a couple of games. He certainly didn’t in this one (14 points-9 rebounds). When he’s playing well he gets plenty of attention. Today this opened things up for Aaron (Trigg) and Justin (Kaufman).”
Unfortunately, for Curry they lost much of their inside presence early (five minutes in) when 6-10 senior Johnathan Bowers knocked knees with a Gordon player. He came back later in the half and limped around and then didn’t play in the second half. Johnathan was just coming off being CCC Player-of-the-Week and Curry had no one who would give them the 17.6 points per game that he was averaging or the ten rebounds per game.
“Those things happen,” said Coach Wynn. “Our plan coming in was to go inside (as Roger Williams had done with Geoff Barranger). And with all due respects to Geoff Barranger, he’s not the player I feel that our guy is.” The Colonels hope to have Johnathan back for their next game at Anna Maria on Thursday.
The Colonels made the first basket – three from Mark Mastrullo – and then someone must have said, “Let the shooting begin!” Answering three’s from Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME) and Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) were followed by a nifty inside layup from Jon and the Scots were literally off to the races. Shortly after this surge Gordon was at it again reeling off six straight (featuring an Aaron Trigg steal and layin) and this put the Scots up, 14-7, just 4 ½ minutes into the game.
Then Curry lost their best player inside (Johnathan Bowers) for a while. The Scots stretched their lead to, 29-19, by the time he was back. Even in a subpar condition Johnathan made a couple of shots but the player he was covering, Jeff Derr (sophomore-6′8″-Barrington IL), answered with a couple of outside shots.
Still within range (40-30) with three minutes left, the Colonels were victimized by a ten-point Gordon run. A nice feed from Brady Bajema to Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME) started it and then Aaron Trigg hit a couple of three’s and free throws to finish it. Loice Williams hit a long three at the very end of the half but Curry trailed, 50-33.
“I warned the team at halftime that Curry can score points in bunches,” said Coach Schauer. Not on this day. The Scots took a while to get going in the second half – a miss and two turnovers – but an Aaron Trigg three assisted by Justin Kaufman (he had 12 in the game) got the on-target offense rolling again.
Brady Bajema had an “interesting” second half. He had missed the previous game (Roger Williams) with a sore elbow and was wearing a significant brace on that elbow in this game. Might be a good idea for the next opponent to see if there could be some sort of GPS device concealed in that brace. Why? Well, after Brady left the game bleeding he came back into the game with a new number (21) and that brace I just mentioned. It took Brady only two minutes to drill four 3’s and earn the “BRA-DY, BRA-DY,” chants from the crowd.
The Colonels were reduced to the role of spectators at Brady’s barrage and when he was done they were down, 74-51, with nine minutes left. The Scots had three more long ones left in them the rest of the way (Jeff Derr, Brady, and Aaron) and won going away, 93-63.
Curry (7-10 overall and 3-2 in the CCC) was led by their two terrific guards, Tim Jones (21) and Mark Mastrullo (17). Tim Jones is the top scorer in the CCC and just about the fastest guard you’ll ever see. “Tim Jones is almost impossible to defend,” said Coach Schauer. The Scots sent their two best defenders after him, Justin Kaufman and Aaron Trigg, but he still got his points. Fortunately, for Gordon, Curry didn’t do any damage inside.
Coach Wynn said he came into this game with high expectations. “I thought that this one was winnable. And I still think that we are the best team in the league. We just don’t play like it every game.”
Gordon has now won 22 straight conference games at home. When asked about the team shooting so well at home Coach Schauer said, “As someone who made shots (at Wheaton) I can tell you that it’s much easier to shoot in a gym that you’re familiar with.”
The Scots next game (Thursday night – New England College) is the perfect trap game. The visiting Pilgrims are struggling big-time. They’ve lost five in a row. They’re 0-5 in the CCC and they’re 4-12 overall. How easy it will be for the Scots to look past New England to the always entertaining matchup against Endicott next Saturday afternoon. I’m guessing that the memory of the devastating loss to underdog ENC last Saturday should keep everyone on the team from letting that happen. Let’s hope so.
I mentioned Jim Petty earlier. The former Gordon scoring machine was on hand because he will be inducted into the Gordon Hall of Honor this evening. I interviewed the 1995 graduate before the Curry game and expect to put an article together tomorrow regarding that conversation.