WENHAM — The Endicott men's basketball team looked to play to its strengths last night on the road at Gordon by pushing the tempo to avoid the physical, halfcourt defense of the Scots.
But after Gordon tied the game up to give Endicott last possession, the Gulls had no choice but to slow things down and wait for the last shot. Instead of calling time out to draw up a play, visiting head coach Phil Rowe decided to play to his biggest strenght — point guard Lance Greene — and the junior lifted the Gulls to the 70-67 win.
After Gordon's Park Thomas connected from downtown to tie the game in the final minute, Greene took the clock all the way down to seven seconds before driving the lane, absorbing the contact and finishing a spectacular layup. Greene converted from the charity stripe and when the Scots desperation heave sailed wide, the Gulls (14-8) escaped with the win. Gordon meanwhile, fell to 8-14.
The Scots cut a 10-point deficit in the final three minutes to tie the game. Afterward, Greene spoke about Endicott's ability to handle the late game adversity.
"We just tried to stay calm and stick together. You're going to have lapses in a game like this. We just pulled together and got the win," said Greene, who also described his final drive to the dish.
"To be honest with you I got lucky. We had a 1-4 (offensive) set and I just saw the lane and tried to penetrate. Luckily I got the shot off."
Greene finished with a team-high 19 points, scoring 13 in the second half. Endicott needed every last bucket as the Gulls were playing without an injured Erik Callo while John Henault couldn't make it back on the court for the second half.
"That's the best game he (Greene) has played all year. He's been hurt all year and, to come in here tonight after everything with the team injuries, he really sucked it up," noted Rowe. "He is our leader and when he plays like that we are pretty good."
With a patchwork lineup the Gulls needed more than just Greene to rise to the occasion. Tyler Burkhart, who was a perfect 5 for 5 from the field, was one of those players, scoring eight second half points to help keep the Scots from taking the lead. Burkhart crashed the boards hard and had back-to-back put backs while Gordon was storming back. Andre Makris (14 points) and Matt Kneece played well down low in the absence of Callo. Lachlan Magee also played well on the break allowing Endicott to get out and run, even when Greene was spelled.
"That's how we play, we have to play up tempo. We have to run," said Rowe. " If we run and reverse the ball, it catches people on their heels a little bit and then we get a little better quality possession. When we walk the ball up, we are not as effective."
David Dempsey did everything he could to keep Gordon in the game. Slightly under-sized, the junior forward muscled his way around the post using technique and strong footwork to gash the Gulls for a game-high 25 points.
Luke Hamilton (11 points) hit some big three-pointers for the Scots.
The Endicott women looked a little shaky at times last night against Gordon, but were able to come away with a 67-64 win in the early game.
The Gulls held a 33-3 advantage in bench points as Kayleen Whall came off the pine and scored 19 points for Endicott (14-8) which ramped up it's defense and scored 30 points off turnovers compared to Gordon's 15.
After missing a pair of freebees at the two-minute mark, the Gulls went 4 for 4 from the charity stripe down the stretch to seal the victory. Gordon meanwhile, drops to 7-15.
"We shoot free throws 'til we're blue in the face at practice," said Endicott head coach Brittany Hutchinson. "I expect we knock them down when the game is in crunch time."
Jennifer White chipped in 16 points for Endicott but it was what the Gulls did defensively down the stretch that earned the win. With freshmen Leanna Tallamy and Brooke Kratche having spectacular nights for the Scots (7-15), Endicott was able to effectively run its zone to force outside shots down the stretch. And most importantly, the Gulls rebounded defensively.
Tallamy led all scorers with 22 points. The freshman did it with power and did it with grace. She muscled down low and earned free throws and danced along the baseline for easy layups.
"She's just so steady everyday, comes to practice the same way everyday and just works here tail off and I think that's really what separates her," said Gordon head coach Julie Brown. "She is always working hard in the post and playing solid defense. The great thing is obviously her work ethic, but that she's got so much room to grow. I just love that child."
Kratche added 21 points on 10 of 18 shooting for Gordon.