WENHAM, Mass. - Gordon men's basketball dropped its first game of the New Year, falling just short of a 14-point comeback, 79-76, against a hot-shooting Salve Regina squad. The Seahawks earned their first Commonwealth Coast Conference win of the season thanks to an efficient night from reserve Chris O'Keefe (Lexington, Mass.), while Gordon falls to 3-3 in the CCC.
The inside-outside game worked for the Fighting Scots early, earning a 9-5 lead after just three minutes of play. However, back-to-back charges taken by the Seahawks ushered Hans Miersma (Whittinsville, Mass.) to the bench for a majority of the first half and changed the style of Gordon's offense.
The Seahawks entered the game shooting south of the 25-percent mark from behind the three-point line over the last four games, but the shots started falling early. O'Keefe was the unlikeliest of heroes for the Seahawks, making only three triples out of 17 attempts coming into the game. Unfortunately for the Scots, Salve's secret weapon drained five deep balls in the game to help put Gordon in a big hole in the first half.
After O'Keefe hit another big shot at the 8:28, Gordon readjusted their offensive effort with reserve forward Dominic Paradis (Rochester, N.H.). Paradis gave the Scots instant offense from the moment he came off the bench, scoring 13 first-half points to help Gordon score 15 straight points and take a 30-29 lead. Once again the deep ball hurt the Scots, when Rodney Morton (Malden, Mass.) and Barrett Hanlon (Hopkinton, Mass.) hit long threes for a 37-32 halftime lead.
With the starters returning to the low post, Gordon methodically put a long offensive stretch together. After scoring 32 points in the first half, Gordon scored 30 in the first 10 minutes of the second to take a 62-55 advantage. Once again Paradis was hot from beyond the arc, but the halftime break did not cool off O'Keefe either.
Salve's junior pair of O'Keefe and Hanlon was nearly unconscious from the field in the second half. Despite falling behind by six points with eight minutes to go, Salve never wavered from their offensive strategy of trying to beat the Scots off the dribble and getting to the hoop to draw fouls. The Seahawks took a two-point lead with 5:10 to go on a layup by O'Keefe and never trailed the rest of the way.
Gordon had a good look from three in the closing moments, but couldn't pull out the comeback victory.
The Seahawks were led by junior guard Hanlon with 22 points, including 17 in the second half, who also dished out six assists and thieved four passes. O'Keefe finished with 18 points, 15 from deep, and Morton pitched in 17 points. Scott St. Lawrence (Litchfield, N.H.) wrangled in six rebounds to lead Salve Regina.
Gordon owned the paint with an 18-board advantage in the rebound margin and 30 points in the area. Paradis led the Scots with 25 points, a career high for the sophomore. Miersma recovered from a quiet first half with 18 points and eight rebounds. Jason Dempsey (Wallingford, Conn.) continued his impressive stretch of games with 17 points and 11 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. Dempsey and Miersma combined for six blocks.
Salve Regina will take on top-billed Eastern Nazarene on Wednesday, while Gordon travels to Biddeford, Maine on the same day for a game with UNE.