BENNINGTON, Vt. – Southern Vermont College dealt Becker College its first New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) men's basketball loss of the season Monday night as the hosts overcame a late deficit and held on to top the Hawks 75-73 at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.
The game was tight throughout the opening half before SVC gained a six-point edge late in the frame to bring a 39-33 lead into the locker room. The Mountaineers led by as many as 10 during the second half, but Becker came back to outscore Southern Vermont by four during the final 20 minutes. The Hawks went in front midway through the second as the tilt continued, only to see SVC gain the upper hand late in the game and hold on for its 10th-straight win.
Southern Vermont improves to 12-9 overall and 10-2 in league action as the Hawks drop to 15-6 on the season and 11-1 against the NECC. The two teams have an instant rematch lined up for Wednesday as SVC will head to Becker to cap the home-and-home series with a 5:30 p.m. start.
The Mountaineers have now taken their last seven-consecutive meetings with the Hawks including the 2016 Conference championship and a 2015 semifinal matchup. A win on Wednesday would give Southern Vermont sole possession of first place in the NECC standings with the tie-breaking season sweep of Becker.
SVC junior Mike Pierre (Melrose, N.Y.) led the team with 19 points while adding four rebounds to his line, and senior Rayshawn Taylor (Silver Spring, Md.) followed with 16 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Josh Borders (Miami, Fla.) notched 15 points and a pair of steals while senior Nate Goldsmith (Capitol Heights, Md.) registered 14 points, three assists and a team-leading eight rebounds. Fellow senior Davante Jordan (Great Mills, Md.) tallied seven points, five assists and two steals in reserve time for the Mountaineers.
Becker was paced by junior Samuel Durodola (Rosedale, N.Y.) who scored a game-best 22 points, and he also had nine rebounds and four assists on the night. Sophomore Kareem Davis (Lowell, Mass.) was right behind with 20 points, four rebounds and three assists while senior captain Kyle Credle (Queens, N.Y.) recorded 13 points, four rebounds, three steals and a pair of assists. Freshman Donzell Cunningham (Linden, N.J.) chalked up 10 points and five boards off the bench, and classmate Antonio White Jr. (Middletown, Conn.) finished with eight points and a game and season-best 16 rebounds.
Southern Vermont shot an even 50 percent (28-56) from the floor while Becker finished with a 38.4 percent (28-73) clip from field goal range. The Hawks owned a 42-34 advantage on the glass while outscoring SVC 16-10 in points off turnovers. The visitors utilized their upper hand in rebounding for a 15-5 difference in second-chance points, but SVC ran the floor well to notch 12 fast-break points while holding the Hawks to zero.
Davis splashed home a triple from the right edge of the arc to get the scoring started, but Southern Vermont responded right away with a Goldsmith layup followed by a Taylor triple from the right corner. Baskets went back-and-forth as neither side could gain separation until Becker went on a 9-2 spurt capped by a Cunningham bank shot at the right side— that bucket giving his team its largest lead of the night at 19-13. Pierre helped the Mountaineers storm back with eight unanswered points, however, as he got a floater in the lane to go before adding another four points during the run for a 21-19 SVC edge.
Davis ended the Southern Vermont surge as he banged home a trey from the left side of the perimeter, only to see Borders drop in back-to-back layups for the lead to change sides once again. Davis knocked in a deep three-pointer from the top of the arc at the 5:54 mark, and the traded scores continued down the stretch of the period. Goldsmith grabbed a defensive board and sprinted down the court before ditching it off to an open Pierre for two, allowing the Mountaineers to close out the half on an 8-2 run. Goldsmith took a Borders pass and drilled a three with 39 ticks left for the hosts to bring a 39-33 upper hand into the break.
After White Jr. made it a 41-37 lead for SVC in the onset of the second frame, the hosts scored six unanswered to stake their biggest advantage of the night. Becker answered with seven unanswered points capped by a Credle three, but Pierre then notched four of his own to once again extend the separation. Davis used his smooth form to hit a downtown bucket from the right edge— sparking a 9-2 Hawk run which saw him add a game-tying floater from the left side of the baseline (53-53).
Durodola completed an old-fashion three-point play to put his team up by two with 6:37 to go, and he then got a layup to fall just under the 4:00 mark to put Becker ahead 69-66. Pierre would help the Mountaineers seize the momentum as he dropped a three off a Jordan dish, and Taylor then tallied another from the top of the arc off an additional Jordan pass to put SVC in front 72-71 with 2:30 on the clock.
That score stood through nearly the next two minutes before Taylor pulled up and knocked down a jumper with 40 ticks left to go. Davis had a pair of three-point attempts in the waning seconds but couldn't get them to fall, and Goldsmith then hit the one free throw needed to make it a two-possession game. Southern Vermont conceded another Hawk look from the outside— eventually allowing White Jr. to take an offensive board and put it back up for two as the buzzer sounded and SVC celebrated its win.