Men’s Basketball Begins NECC Schedule with 97-64 Win at Wheelock

damon daniel drives the ball

BOSTON, Mass. – Southern Vermont College started its New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) men's basketball schedule Tuesday night at The Winsor School with the visiting Mountaineers defeating Wheelock College 97-64.

SVC ran out to a strong 51-26 advantage by the end of the first period, and the Mountaineers padded their cushion by eight in the closing 20 minutes for their biggest win since February 20, 2016 (110-57 vs. Daniel Webster College).

Southern Vermont improves to 9-3 (1-0 NECC) on the year with its second-straight win and eighth consecutive victory over the Wildcats. SVC is back on the road Thursday when the team heads to Lesley University for an 8 p.m. start.

Four Mountaineers scored at least 16 points with senior Claude Payne (South Plainfield, N.J.) leading the way with a game-high 19; he also had five rebounds, four assists, and three steals in the effort. Junior Andre Hodo (Rockville, Md.) tallied 17 points and a game-best nine boards while senior Mike Pierre (Melrose, N.Y.) chipped in with another 17 points in addition to his seven rebounds, five steals, and four assists. Junior Josh Borders (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) was right behind with a season-high 16 points for SVC.

Southern Vermont connected on 37-78 (47.4 percent) of its field goal attempts—that being the most made shots from the floor for the team this year; WC finished the game with a 39 percent (23-59) mark on field goal shooting. Both side snagged 40 rebounds, but SVC was able to utilize its offensive boards to outscore the Wildcats 20-7 in second-chance points. The Mountaineers won the turnover battle by a 25-11 margin and capitalized on those Wheelock giveaways to chalk up a 37-13 upper hand in points off mishaps.

The Wildcats used a pair of 3-pointers early on to stake a quick lead, but SVC stormed back with 21 unanswered points to go in front 25-8 midway through the first; Hodo scored five points in that stretch after Borders and junior Kyle Depollar (Rockville, Md.) drilled back-to-back triples. Southern Vermont finished the half on an 11-0 run—Payne notching four of those points—to bring a comfortable upper hand to the locker room.

11 unanswered Wheelock points in the front-end of the second stanza saw the Wildcats get their deficit to 15 (60-45), but SVC slowly pushed the difference back to over 20 before a 17-0 surge put the game out of the hosts' reach; five Mountaineers got in on the scoring during that time with Borders having seven points of his own. Another Depollar trey gave the visitors their biggest lead of the night at 92-53 with 5:25 to go, and Southern Vermont was able to go into cruise control for the final few minutes to walk out with the win.