Men’s Basketball falls just short at NECC Championship

Kareem Davis

BENNINGTON, Vt. --- The Becker College men's basketball team's 2017-2018 season came to an end on Saturday evening as the team lost 67-62 at Southern Vermont College in the finals of the New England Collegiate Conference Championship Tournament at the Mountaineer Athletic Center in Bennington, Vermont.

The second-seeded Hawks of Becker (15-12) were led by junior guard Kareem Davis (Lowell, Mass. / St. John's) with 20 points and five rebounds. Senior forward Samuel Durodola (Rosedale, N.Y. / Campus Magnet) saw his historic career come to a close as he recorded 10 points and four rebounds. Durodola finished his career with 1699 points, the most scored by a Hawk since the school joined the NCAA. Sophomore forward Antonio White Jr. (Middletown, Conn. / Middletown) had another outstanding game off the bench, finishing with 13 points and ten rebounds. Sophomore forward Donzell Cunningham (Linden, N.J. / Piscataway) finished with five points and eight boards while junior forward Dewayne Thomas (Springfield, Mass. / Lowell) recorded five blocks.

The top-seeded Mountaineers of Southern Vermont (22-5) were led by senior guard Mike Pierre (Melrose, N.Y./Hoosick Valley) with 26 points. Junior guard Kyle Depollar (Rockville, Md./Montrose Christian) scored nine points with three steals, including a game-clincher with two seconds to go. Junior forward Andre Hodo (Rockville, Md./Bullis School) posted eight points with nine rebounds, while junior guard Josh Borders (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Coral Springs) recorded nine points. Senior center Claude Payne (South Plainfield, N.J./South Plainfield) added six points.

The host Mountaineers exploded out of the gate to take a 12-0 lead, capped off with a three-pointer from senior guard Daemond Carter (Forestville, Md./Largo) with 17:12 to go in the first period. Back came the Hawks, pulling to within one on a 16-5 rally finished with two free throws from freshman guard Jamir Carr (Philadelphia, Penn. / Universal Audenried) with 9:53 remaining in the period. Less than two minutes later, Becker took their first lead of the game off a put-back from White, as the Hawks went up 20-19.

The two top teams in the conference continued to go at it for the rest of the period. With 30 seconds to go before halftime, Davis hit a massive three-pointer out of the corner to put Becker ahead by one. Southern Vermont would come right back as Pierre drew the foul with ten seconds left and buried both shots as the Mountaineers went into halftime leading 33-32. Pierre led all scorers at the break with 14 points while Davis had 10 for the Hawks.

Early in the second half and with points at a premium, Becker used an 8-0 run to go up 44-39 with 13:23 to go in the game, with two Davis three-pointers sandwiching a Robinson breakaway layup. Back came Southern Vermont scoring nine unanswered points, a stretch capped off with a jumper from Pierre as the Mountaineers went up four with 10:36 remaining.

Later in the half, Becker went ahead 58-54 with 4:08 to go after two free throws by Thomas. Southern Vermont would once again answer with an 8-2 run to take the lead, as Borders buried two free throws with 1:24 to go. After Davis tied it with two free throws of his own, Borders hit a massive three with 42 seconds left as Southern Vermont went ahead 65-62. Becker could not get a shot off in the final seconds, and Pierre hit a layup at the buzzer to ice it for the home team.

It was the third straight year that Becker has travelled to Southern Vermont for the NECC Championship final. The Mountaineers prevailed 74-72 in 2016 after the Hawks missed a shot at the buzzer, while Becker took revenge in 2017, winning 79-70 for the program's second conference title.

Congratulations to the whole team on an outstanding season.

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