Men’s Basketball Sinks Lesley 81-60 in Home NECC Matchup

rohan piple shoots the ball

BENNINGTON, Vt. – The Southern Vermont College men's basketball team completed a perfect three-game home stand Saturday afternoon with an 81-60 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) victory over Lesley University at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.

SVC led 35-22 at the break before extending its advantage in the final 20 minutes to take the season sweep of LU and grab its sixth-straight victory.

The Mountaineers improve to 17-4 on the year and 9-1 in league play—now having taken nine of their last 10 meetings with the Lynx. Lesley drops to 11-10 overall and 6-4 against the Conference with the loss.

Southern Vermont is back in action on Wednesday with a 5:30 p.m. start at Becker College as the Mountaineers try to avenge their only NECC loss of the season. Lesley's next game is also on Wednesday with the Lynx visiting Newbury College for a 7 p.m. tip-off.

SVC senior Claude Payne (South Plainfield, N.J.) racked up a game-high 17 points while adding four rebounds and a pair of assists to his line. Junior Andre Hodo (Rockville, Md.) followed with 16 points, four boards, and three steals, and classmate Kyle Depollar (Rockville, Md.) came off the bench to register 14 points, three assists, and another three steals. Senior Mike Pierre (Melrose, N.Y.) tied his career-high of seven assists in addition to pitching in 10 points and nine rebounds for the Mountaineers.

Lesley was led offensively by sophomore Jordan Bellitti (Cambridge, Mass.) who had 14 points while recording three rebounds and a pair of steals. Junior Charlie Reznikoff (Wilton, Conn.) was right behind with 13 points and another three boards, and senior Will Gilbson (Melbourne, Fla.) chipped in with nine points, four rebounds, and three assists. Junior Joey Martin (Melbourne, Fla.) pulled down a team-best seven rebounds for the Lynx.

Southern Vermont shot 49.3 percent (33-67) from the floor while seeing LU go just 20-59 (33.9 percent) from field goal range. SVC secured a slim 40-38 edge in rebounds and outscored Lesley 23-10 in points off turnovers. The Mountaineers, who entered the game ranked 20th in NCAA Division III with 10.2 steals per game, kept up their defensive ways to total 11 swipes on the afternoon; SVC took advantage of those takeaways to score 20 fast-break points to Lesley's two.

The Mountaineers struggled find a rhythm early on as the hosts were whistled for three offensive fouls in the first seven minutes; with those turnovers, Lesley was able to stake a 14-8 advantage by the 12:12 mark of the period. Southern Vermont turned the tables in the latter half of the first, however, by scoring 16 unanswered points; half of those came from the Mountaineers' bench including five from freshman KJ Kinsey (Deerfield Beach, Fla.).

Buckets were traded through the opening 10 minutes of the second half as Lesley was never able to get its deficit into single digits. Depollar then converted and-1 plays on two out of three SVC trips down the floor for the Mountaineers to gain momentum and feed off their crowd's intensity. Southern Vermont ran off 10 unanswered points soon-after behind seven from Payne alone, and the final few minutes were a formality en route to Southern Vermont's victory.