Men's Basketball holds off Mountaineers in NECC Finals rematch

Jamir Carr

BENNINGTON, Vt. – The Southern Vermont College men's basketball team came inches away from completing a 17-point comeback victory at the Mountaineer Athletic Center Tuesday evening, but a last-second 3-point attempt was off the mark as the visiting Becker College Hawks took to a 74-72 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) victory.

SVC led through the front-end of the first half before Becker went on top in the final 10 minutes to bring a 42-33 advantage into the locker room. After going down 57-40 midway through the second, the Mountaineers battled back and forced a turnover with just seconds left on the clock; the hosts were unable to get a timeout called, however, and were forced to have an errant desperation shot go up and miss the basket as time expired.

The loss is Southern Vermont's first at home in regular season action since December 7, 2016 (Middlebury College, 86-72) and drops the team's records to 3-1 in the NECC and 11-4 overall. With its first regular season win over SVC since January 30, 2014 (78-72), the Hawks are now also 3-1 against the league (8-7 overall).

Southern Vermont is back on the road for its next game as the Mountaineers head to Mitchell College Thursday night for a 6 p.m. NECC tip. Becker now looks ahead to a 7:30 p.m. Thursday league tilt at Newbury College.

Four of the last seven meetings between the two sides have been decided by three points or less.

SVC senior Mike Pierre (Melrose, N.Y.) scored 20 points in the second half to finish with a game-high 26 while adding seven rebounds and six assists to his line. Junior Andre Hodo (Rockville, Md.) had 12 points, three rebounds, three assists, and three steals, and classmate Josh Borders (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) chipped in with 10 points and another three rebounds.

Becker was led by senior Samuel Durodola (Rosedale, N.Y.) who notched 20 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Junior Kareem Davis (Lowell, Mass.) followed with 18 points while classmate Dewayne Thomas (Lowell, Mass.) had nine points, four steals, and two blocks in the win.

The Hawks went 23-45 (51.1 percent) from the floor while SVC were hard-pressed to find the bottom of the bucket with a 19-57 (33.3 percent) performance from field goal range. Becker outscored the Mountaineers 34-10 from the paint, but Southern Vermont knocked down 10 3-pointers to the visitors' four. The Hawks grabbed a 40-31 upper hand in rebounds with a 21-11 advantage on the glass in the first half.

SVC led by six a few times in the first stanza for what would be its biggest lead of the night—the last coming when Pierre found fellow senior Daemond Carter (Forestville, Md.) in the right corner for a trey to make it 22-16. Becker would follow that with a 20-4 run, however, to stake a 10-point lead; Thomas and Davis each had five points in that stretch. Baskets went back-and-forth through the final three minutes for the Hawks to go into the break ahead by nine.

Durodola scored eight points in the first 6:43 of the second half to help his team extend the separation to 17—only to see Southern Vermont dig in and begin the comeback. Pierre and freshman KJ Kinsey (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) each knocked down a shot from beyond the arc during an 11-2 run, but the Hawks responded with six unanswered to pad their cushion again.

Down 69-56 with just over three minutes to go, Pierre then turned it on and put his team on his back. The Mountaineer senior went on a personal 15-3 surge with a pair of triples and five free throws to make it just a 72-71 ballgame. After a Hawk layup pushed the visitors' lead to three, Kinsey went 1-2 from the line with five ticks on the clock.

Becker inbounded the ball and broke the SVC press with a long pass, but Pierre was able to get back and swipe the ball away. Various Mountaineers frantically tried to get the officials' attention to call a timeout—to no avail—while Pierre sprinted up the floor; his last-ditch effort went wayward for Becker to let out a sigh of relief and bring home the victory.

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