CHICOPEE, Mass. – Southern Vermont College saw its winning streak get snapped after eight-straight victories Wednesday night as the visiting Mountaineers fell 73-70 to Elms College in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) men's basketball action at Picknelly Arena.
After SVC brought a 30-29 edge into the locker room, the Blazers went ahead in the second half and took a seven-point lead midway through the stanza. Southern Vermont stormed back to regain the advantage, but Elms was able to go on top in the final minute and hold on for the triumph.
The Mountaineers are now 19-5 overall and 11-2 in league play after their first loss at EC since 2012-13 (February 5, 92-67). Southern Vermont wraps up the regular season on Saturday with a 1 p.m. home tilt against Newbury College—that game serving as SVC's Senior Day with the three graduating members of the team to be honored prior to tip-off.
Southern Vermont utilized a much different lineup than what the Mountaineers have laid out this season as a pair of players made their first collegiate starts while others posted more minutes than their yearly average. Freshman KJ Kinsey (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) scored a team-best 16 points while adding three rebounds and three assists to his line during his first career start, and junior Andre Hodo (Rockville, Md.) notched 14 points and seven boards in the effort. Junior Kyle Depollar (Rockville, Md.) registered 13 points and five rebounds while senior Claude Payne (South Plainfield, N.J.) chipped in 10 points and a game-high 10 boards for his first double-double of the year.
SVC went 21-49 (42.9 percent) from the floor as Elms finished with a 46.2 percent (24-52) clip from field goal range. The Blazers snagged a slim 32-31 edge in rebounds, but Southern Vermont used its offensive caroms to edge EC 10-9 in second-chance points.
The Mountaineers erased a six-point deficit with a 13-2 run in the first half—Kinsey scoring eight of those points with the aid of two triples. Four free throws helped the Blazers go on a 10-3 spurt late in the period and pull ahead at 27-24 with 2:05 left in the first half, but junior Rohan Piple (Germantown, Md.) then drilled baskets on back-to-back Southern Vermont possessions to help his team go into the break on top by one.
A 10-2 Elms run early in the second half—highlighted by triples on ensuing trips down the floor—gave the hosts the largest lead of the night from either side (46-39). It didn't last for long, however, as Southern Vermont came right back with 11 unanswered points to go back on top; sophomore Damon Daniel (Gaithersburg, Md.), who also made his first collegiate start, scored five of those for the visitors.
The back-and-forth continued into the final minutes before a Blazer layup tied it at 69-69 with 48 ticks on the clock. A Mountaineer foul on an offensive board attempt then sent Elms to the charity stripe and allowed EC to go up by a pair.
After Kinsey went 1-2 from the line at the other end with 17 seconds to go, SVC drew an offensive foul on the ensuing inbound play. The Mountaineers couldn't get their go-ahead attempt to fall, however, and the Blazers knocked down another pair of freebies to make it a three-point game. Southern Vermont was hard-pressed to get a quality look at a tying triple as the downtown take fell short for the Blazers to celebrate the victory.
– #LetsGoSVC –