Men’s Basketball Tops Elms 59-44 at Home

claude payne shoots the ball

BENNINGTON, Vt. – It was a low-scoring affair, but Southern Vermont College's performance got the job done as its men's basketball team claimed a 59-44 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) win over Elms College Saturday afternoon at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.

SVC doubled-up the Blazers through the opening 20 minutes to bring a 36-18 lead into the break, and the Mountaineers then held off each of EC's attempts at a comeback to grab their seventh-straight victory against Elms.

The Mountaineers move to 13-4 overall and 5-1 against the league while the Blazers fall to 0-15 on the year and 0-6 in NECC play. Both squads are back in action at 7 p.m. on Wednesday as SVC visits Newbury College while Elms hosts Lesley University. Southern Vermont is now 8-2 in its last 10 meetings with EC.

Saturday's score was the fewest points the Mountaineers have been credited with since a controversial 60-59 loss to Salisbury University on November 20, 2015 in which Southern Vermont actually scored more than the final scoreboard indicated. However, SVC's defensive effort versus Elms accounted for the fewest points registered against Southern Vermont since a 106-44 Mountaineer win over Mass. College of Liberal Arts on December 12, 2015.

SVC senior Mike Pierre (Melrose, N.Y.) scored a game-high 20 points for his fourth-straight game with at least that many, and he also registered six rebounds, two assists, and two steals in the win. Junior Andre Hodo (Rockville, Md.) pitched in with nine points and three boards while classmate Josh Borders (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) tallied eight points, three rebounds, two assists, and a pair of steals. Sophomore Aaron Murray (Camden, N.J.) came off the pine to record seven points, three assists, and a game-high eight rebounds for the Mountaineers.

Elms was led offensively by sophomore Greg Metelus (Palm Beach, Fla.) who tallied 13 points and four rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench. Freshman Andre Peguero (Newington, Conn.) notched eight points and another four boards while classmate Nicholas Brown (Wellington, Fla.) scored five points in addition to snagging a team-best six rebounds.

EC shot 41.9 percent (18-43) from the floor while SVC went 18-55 (32.7 percent) from field goal range. The Mountaineers worked themselves to the free throw line for nearly twice as many attempts, however, to knock down 15 freebies to the Blazers' five. Elms grabbed a 37-31 advantage on the boards, but Southern Vermont utilized its 10-7 edge on the offensive glass to outscore the visitors 14-8 in second-chance points.

SVC led from wire-to-wire as Hodo drilled a pair of 3-pointers in the first 3:21 of action to help the hosts go up 10-3 early on. Pierre knocked down consecutive triples of his own soon-after before freshman teammate KJ Kinsey (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) connected from downtown to make it a 19-6 difference. Pierre would add another trey with 7:25 to go in the first period, and he then scored six unanswered points of his own to finish the half with 15 and help his team go ahead by 18 at the break.

Elms scored the first three buckets once play resumed to cut the deficit to 12, but Southern Vermont answered with an 11-3 run highlighted by four points from both Pierre and Murray. The back-and-forth continued as Metelus dropped six points to help the Blazers score 11 of the next 13 and get within 11 with 5:26 to go in the game. The Mountaineers responded once again, however, to prevent their lead from getting down to single digits; senior Daemond Carter (Forestville, Md.) aided that effort—hitting a pair of shots from beyond the arc for SVC to close out the win.