Men’s Basketball Holds off Johnson State for 66-57 Road Win

mike pierre shoots the ball

JOHNSON, Vt. – Its lead was cut to just three points late in the game, but the Southern Vermont College men's basketball team was able to hold off Johnson State College and pull away for a 66-57 non-conference win at Carter Gym on Saturday.

Most of the first half was evenly matched with both teams going on scoring streaks at times before one by the visitors gave them a 37-28 upper hand at the break. SVC would increase its advantage to a 14-point lead early in the second, but the Badgers came all the way back to make it a three-point deficit with 3:07 left to go. The Mountaineers allowed only three points the rest of the way, however, while forcing three turnovers and converting on the other end to walk out with the win.

SVC improves its season record to 2-0—doing so for the first time in the last three years.

Southern Vermont is back at home for its next game as the Mountaineers will host Fitchburg State University on Tuesday for a 7:30 p.m. non-league matchup.

Leading the way for SVC was senior Mike Pierre (Melrose, N.Y.) who notched a game-high 19 points while adding four steals and a pair of assists to his line. Junior Andre Hodo (Rockville, Md.) tallied 10 points and a team-best 10 rebounds for the double-double, and he also had four steals in the win. Junior Kyle Depollar (Rockville, Md.) and freshman KJ Kinsey (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) each had nine points with Depollar registering four rebounds for the visitors.

Johnson State shot 46 percent (23-50) from the floor as Southern Vermont went 20-53 (37.7 percent). The Mountaineers, however, had a dominating advantage from the free throw line as they went 20-27 (74.1 percent) while the Badgers connected on just 6-13 (46.2 percent) of their attempts. SVC won the turnover battle by a 21-11 margin with 13 of those JSC giveaways coming from Southern Vermont steals.

Play was tightly contested off the tip with a Badger three being answered by one from Pierre on the ensuing trip down the floor, and scoring then continued to go back-and-forth. JSC went in front by a slim margin but couldn't pull away as SVC had answers at the other end to keep getting it back to a one-possession game. With the hosts on top 13-10 midway through the half, Southern Vermont took to an 8-0 run—which included a triple from Kinsey in the left corner—to grab the advantage.

Johnson State had a response, however, as the Badgers came back and notched eight unanswered points of their own with the help of two steal-and-scores. The momentum continued to sway with a three-ball by senior Daemond Carter (Forestville, Md.) sparking a 9-0 Mountaineer run—four of those points coming off Depollar's hand as SVC went up 27-21 with 5:44 to go. The next five Southern Vermont points came from the free throw line as scoring was traded down the stretch, and Depollar then drilled one from downtown with 33 seconds left for his team to bring a nine-point edge into the locker room.

Pierre took the opening possession of the second stanza and knocked down a three, and he then went 2-2 from the line to give SVC its biggest lead of the afternoon (42-28). Johnson State got a layup to go to get it back to single digits midway through the period, but sophomore Tyler McLeod (Auburn, N.Y.) answered with a 3-pointer at the other end to keep his team up comfortably at 49-37 with 11:02 left to play.

The game would go scoreless over the next 2:17 of action, and then the Badgers started to inch back into it. A pair of triples got it down to an eight-point contest with the latter starting a 7-0 run by the hosts. Hodo would hit a jumper with 4:02 on the clock to make it a 57-49 lead—only to see JSC connect from downtown on the following possession before making the most of a defensive rebound as a layup put the Badgers within three.

Pierre would give his team some breathing room, however, as he scored the next five points of the game—two coming off a transition layup after he swiped it away on the defensive end. A Johnson State layup with 51 ticks to play got the Badgers within six, but that would be the closest they'd get the rest of the way as Depollar and Hodo each converted on their bonus opportunities at the charity stripe to help close out the game.