Men’s Basketball Registers Best-ever Season Start with 88-74 Win at Sage

andre hodo goes up for a shot

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Southern Vermont College men's basketball team is off to its best start in program history as the Mountaineers tacked up an 88-74 victory at The Sage Colleges Tuesday night in non-conference action at Kahl Gym.

SVC is now 6-0 on the season—topping the 2001-02 squad which only won its first five games before taking a loss.

The Mountaineers were down 40-39 at halftime before topping the Gators by 15 in the second period to take a convincing win in the two sides' first meeting since November 2013. Albeit a short trip between the two schools, SVC and Sage have lined up against each just other five times, ever; Southern Vermont now has a commanding 4-1 record in the series with Tuesday's win.

SVC is back on the road for its next game as the Mountaineers head to the Bronx on Saturday to take on Lehman College at 2 p.m.

Southern Vermont senior Mike Pierre (Melrose, N.Y.) once again led the team as he notched a game-best 17 points while adding six rebounds and two steals to his line. Sophomore Tyler McLeod (Auburn, N.Y.) came off the bench to notch 14 points and five boards in just 19 minutes of action, and junior Josh Borders (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) had 12 points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Junior Andre Hodo (Rockville, Md.) added 11 points, five boards, and three steals in the win.

The Mountaineers shot an even 50 percent (28-56) from the floor while holding the Gators to just a 35.1 percent (26-74) clip from field goal range. Sage had a strong 51-35 advantage in rebounds, but SVC used a 25-17 upper hand in turnovers to outscore the hosts 30-15 off those mistakes.

Pierre got a nice floater in the lane to fall before he dished out back-to-back assists to Hodo as SVC ran out to an 11-3 lead to start the game. The Mountaineer defense forced eight Gator turnovers in the opening eight minutes of play with one—coming right underneath the home squad's basket—resulting in a quick layup by senior Daemond Carter (Forestville, Md.) which made it a nine-point SVC advantage. Sage would inch back and make it 17-14 with a triple, however, and a Gator 3-pointer soon-after then got the hosts within one.

Hodo knocked down a great baseline jumper from the right side as scoring went back-and-forth into the latter end of the half. Six unanswered Sage points gave the hosts their first lead of the night before SVC regained the upper hand with a 6-0 spurt at the other end—one which was capped when Borders drilled a pullup 15-footer from the right edge of the key. The Gators pulled ahead on a layup with 49 ticks left, and Southern Vermont couldn't get a final-second, fast-break attempt to go for the hosts to bring their one-point lead into the break.

Both teams missed their share of open shots in the onset of the second, but the Mountaineers then started to find the bottom of the net as they notched the opening four baskets of the half—the last one being a Pierre trey from the top of the arc—to jump back on top. Sage cut it down to a four-point deficit before Carter sent home a downtown attempt from the left corner to push it back to eight (54-46) with 14:55 on the clock.

Borders would cap another six unanswered SVC points with a pullup jumper from the left side to force a Sage timeout with the Mountaineers in front by 12. Freshman KJ Kinsey (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) then scored back-to-back baskets to give the visitors their biggest lead of the night at 68-50 with 8:40 left to go. Sage got the deficit down to 11 with a triple, and the Gators then recorded seven-straight points—all from the free throw line—to make it just a nine-point difference in the final minutes.

Missed attempts at both ends of the court saw the hosts running out of time and being forced to foul—a strategy that didn't pay off as the Mountaineers connected on six freebies in-a-row, and a total of eight, in the last 48 seconds to keep their distance and finish off the win.