BENNINGTON, Vt. – The Southern Vermont College men's basketball team established a large enough lead through the first half so that a second-stanza push by Newbury College couldn't overcome the deficit as the hosts held on to defeat the Nighthawks 102-90 Saturday afternoon in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) action at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.
The regular season finale also served as SVC's Senior Day with Daemond Carter (Forestville, Md.), Claude Payne (South Plainfield, N.J.), and Mike Pierre (Melrose, N.Y.) all being recognized in front of their home crowd prior to tip-off.
Southern Vermont pulled away through the last 10 minutes of the opening period to bring a 60-38 cushion to the intermission, but NC was able to battle back and get the separation down to seven with 4:04 to go. The Mountaineers prevented the Nighthawks from getting any closer, however, as they held Newbury without a point over the next 3:34 of play while extending their advantage for the win.
Southern Vermont finishes the year at 20-5 overall and 12-2 against the NECC; the Mountaineers now gear up for the playoffs and a 7 p.m. Thursday night semifinal matchup at home with their opponent to be determined Tuesday evening. Newbury finishes the year with a 2-12 record in Conference play and 4-21 mark overall.
Pierre led the Mountaineers with 24 points while adding three rebounds, three assists, and two steals to his line, and junior Kyle Depollar (Rockville, Md.) was right behind with 21 points as he went 4-6 from the outside; Depollar also notched five steals and four assists in the win.
Fellow junior Andre Hodo (Rockville, Md.) had a solid game all around with 14 points, a season-high nine assists, and six boards for the Mountaineers, and Carter added another 14 points with four 3-pointers of his own. Payne tallied a game-high 13 rebounds while junior Aaron Murray (Camden, N.J.) pitched in with 12 points, seven boards, and four blocks during 17 minutes off the bench.
Newbury senior Daivon Edwards (Roxbury, Mass.) registered a game-best 28 points—tallying his 1,000th career point in the process; he also tied the team-high of seven rebounds on the day. Freshman Miguel Rivera (Waterbury, Conn.) provided 21 points and four boards while classmate Tim Deng (Portland, Maine) recorded 15 points and another seven rebounds. Senior Ato Botsio (Canton, Mass.) finished his career with a 10-point game for the visitors.
Southern Vermont shared the ball well with the Mountaineers combining for 23 assists—that being the most for the team since a February 20, 2016 win over Daniel Webster College (110-57) in which the squad racked up 25 helpers. SVC committed just 13 turnovers to NC's 21 and utilized that mistake margin to outscore the visitors 20-12 in points off giveaways.
The Mountaineers shot 52.9 percent (36-68) from the floor on the day, and the Nighthawks finished at a 46.4 percent (32-69) clip from field goal range. Both sides shot early and often from downtown as NC went 14-28 (50 percent) on 3-point attempts while Southern Vermont was 11-29 (37.9) on long-range looks.
SVC held a slim upper hand through the opening eight minutes with Payne coming out of a Mountaineer stoppage and making a great pass to Pierre for a 16-11 lead. Newbury stayed close, however, and eventually went on top when freshman Kieth Hollman (Cambridge, Mass.) jumped a Southern Vermont pass at the top of the arc and took it the distance for a 21-20 edge.
The hosts responded off their turnover and stormed to an 18-5 run which was capped by a stellar behind-the-back Hodo pass underneath the hoop to an open Pierre for the easy bucket. Depollar and Pierre then drilled back-to-back triples before the Mountaineers ended the half on a 13-4 spurt to bring a comfortable cushion into the locker room.
A Hodo jumper with 14:23 left in the game gave Southern Vermont its biggest lead of the day at 76-53, but the Nighthawks would then start to chip away at their deficit south of the 11:00 mark. Edwards dropped a pair of treys during a personal 8-0 run before Botsio and Rivera each connected from downtown to make it a 91-84 ballgame with 4:33 on the clock.
Newbury's offense would then lose its rhythm, however, as the Nighthawks missed four shots in-a-row while turning the ball over twice; the Mountaineers' defensive rebounding came up big in that stretch by grabbing each carom and keeping NC from getting any second-chance looks. SVC converted from the free throw line in the waning minutes to push the difference back into double digits and close out the season sweep of the Nighthawks. Southern Vermont is now 9-1 in its last 10 meetings with Newbury.
– #LetsGoSVC –