BENNINGTON, Vt. – After Southern Vermont College sophomore Kajuan Kinsey (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) forced overtime with just .8 seconds on the clock, teammate Josh Borders (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) drew a foul with the game tied and only .3 seconds to go in the extra session. The SVC senior then calmly hit all three of his free throws to help his squad finish off a 76-73 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) men's basketball victory over New England College at the Mountaineer Athletic Center Saturday afternoon.
NEC went into the locker room on top 32-26, but the Mountaineers came out of the intermission and chipped away at their deficit. Southern Vermont finally tied it before the buzzer and capped the comeback win in the final moments of overtime—handing the Pilgrims their first NECC loss of the year.
SVC (10-4, 4-2 NECC) heads to Lesley University on Tuesday for its next game with tip-off slated for 8 p.m. NEC (11-3, 5-1 NECC) hosts Becker College the same night for a 6 p.m. start.
Mountaineer senior Andre Hodo (Silver Spring, Md.) posted a career and game-high 27 points while tying the game-best of 11 boards for a double-double. Sophomore Donnell Frayer Jr. (Upper Marlboro, Md.) added 17 points and eight rebounds while Borders had 13 points, six assists, and four caroms.
A pair of Pilgrims reached the 20-point mark with junior Izaiah Winston-Brooks (Roxbury, Mass.) posting a team-best 23. Senior Ricky Leonard (Windsor, Conn.) was right behind with 22, and classmate Jason Jones (Roxbury, Mass.) tied Hodo with 11 rebounds. Freshman Jamal Allen (Dorchester, Mass.) chipped in with 16 points in 25 minutes off the bench.
Neither side was overly efficient from the floor as NEC shot 38.1 percent (24-63) to Southern Vermont's 36.4 percent (24-66). The Mountaineers snagged a 45-38 advantage on the boards and outscored New England 28-23 in points off turnovers—those extra five being the difference maker as the game-tying basket and go-ahead free throws all came following Pilgrim mishaps.
Saturday's tilt was a contest between a pair of teams that played in the NCAA Division III national tournament in 2018 after winning their respective conference championships—the Pilgrims doing so as the representative of the North Athletic Conference. It was not only the first-ever NECC matchup between the two sides, but it was the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
After Southern Vermont jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the game, NEC pulled ahead with 10 unanswered points. A second 10-0 Pilgrim run later in the opening half helped the visitors go up by 11, but Hodo cut into the deficit with the final five points of the period—two coming on a great tip-in with time expiring.
NEC was able to stay ahead through almost the entire second half, but the Mountaineers slowly trimmed the difference throughout the frame. Southern Vermont trailed 65-63 with the shot clock turned off, and Frayer Jr. drove to the basket in an attempt to tie it up; his miss was initially corralled by a Pilgrim, but a costly travel with 1.8 ticks left allowed SVC get the ball back underneath the hoop. Kinsey received the inbound pass from Borders and laid if off the glass to tie things at 65-65 and send the game to an extra period.
A back-and-forth ensued in overtime with New England going in front by two at the 2:05 mark. Hodo then got a layup to go to even it with 1:26 left to go, and neither team could score in the course of live action the rest of the way. NEC missed two free throws in an attempt to go on top, and the Pilgrims again turned it over in a rushed transition attempt for the win during the waning seconds after SVC couldn't connect on a pair of go-ahead takes.
As Borders crossed the midcourt line and tossed up a desperation 3-pointer with time about to expire, he was fouled by an NEC player. The Mountaineer sank all three of his freebies, and the Pilgrims were unable to do anything with the remaining tenths of a second.
– #LetsGoSVC –