Colonels battle Fighting Scots to final minutes
BY BRANDON WILFORE // Dec. 7, 2016 //
A college basketball game is 40 minutes. Curry outplayed visiting Gordon College for 35 minutes. The game came down to those five minutes.
“We as a team are getting better each day, despite us losing. We will keep working. I believe in this team. We gotta keep going hard,” said freshman Jaelen Bellitti after Tuesday’s tough loss. Jaelen added 15 points for the Colonels.
The Curry Colonels men’s basketball team dropped to 0-7 on the year after a close loss to the visiting Gordon Fighting Scots, by a score of 76-71.
If you look on paper, the Scots seemed to have the upper hand; last year’s contest also went to Gordon, but that margin of victory was 39 points. This time, they came into the Eleanor Katz Gymnasium 4-2.
But this didn’t scare the Colonels; they came out guns blazing, not backing down to anyone. They were driving to the rim and finishing. On three straight possessions, they scored a basket and earned a foul to get the whole crowd into the game. That run led to a 15-8 lead for Curry, with almost everyone on their feet.
The problem for the Colonels this year has been turnovers, but not Tuesday night. Using high-intensity defense and taking good care of the ball, they extended their lead to double digits with nine minutes to play until the half.
Curry players were trapping in the corners, swatting layups and even laying out for loose balls; was this the night they got their first win in two years?
At the half, the Colonels led 41-29 and everything was clicking. They committed only four turnovers in the first half…FOUR. Before Tuesday night, the Colonels averaged a Commonwealth Coast Conference-high 18.4 turnovers a game. The Scots racked up 15 of their own.
The beginning of the second half was, weird, to say the least.
A family member of a Curry player got warned by the college’s Public Safety officers to back away from the court. The man took that as an insult and talked back, leading to Public Safety asking him to leave. While being escorted out, the guy decided to sprint out of the gym like he was on Cops, and the whole gym erupted in laughter.
After all the dust settled, there was still a basketball game going on. The Colonels were holding on to an 11-point lead with 10 minutes left in the game.
A win was just ten minutes away…if they can close it out.
With the help of Garrisson Duvivier and Eric Demers, Gordon got back into the game and worked to trail by only a pair of points with seven minutes to play.
But Curry has some scorers too, including Jaelen Bellitti and Paul Preziosi, who both had productive second halves to fuel a run that would extend the lead to five with just under three minutes to go.
The Colonels needed a stop, leading 71-66 with 1:28 left in the game. They got one when senior James Pina blocked Sam Johnson, seemingly ending the battle that had been going on all night. Pina emphasized his play with a lion-like roar to force the Scots called a timeout.
After their conference, Gordon got some key defensive stops and tied the game at 71 with under a minute left.
Now, winning doesn’t just come to a team. Believe it or not, you have to learn how to win, and there were some learning curves for Curry.
The Colonels had the ball looking for the go-ahead basket and got a three-point attempt from the corner by James Gibson. It failed to fall and the Scots rushed down the court and laid the ball in to take the lead with 29 seconds left.
After a few offensive rebounds by Gordon, and fouls by Curry, the Purple and White dropped their 32nd contest in a row, this time by a 76-71 final score.
“The way we played tonight says a lot about our toughness and heart as a team after a tough loss the game before,” said Preziosi after the game. He added that this is definitely “a game we can improve on [so we can] learn how to finish.”
3 Points (No Pun Intended, Pun Intended)
- Bench?: Curry’s bench only contributed 12 of its 71 points.
- Bellitti Backcourt: The twins combined for 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists
- Road Trip: The Colonels travel north to Maine for their next two games over the holiday break. They resume conference play Jan. 3, at home against Salve Regina.
Can the New Year bring the Colonels their first win?