BENNINGTON, Vt. – For the second time in three days, the Becker College women's basketball team defeated Southern Vermont College, Thursday night's being a 71-63 final at the Mountaineer Athletic Center in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) action.
Three players from both sides reached the double-digit point plateau with Becker senior Haley Ooms (Valatie, N.Y.) pacing all scorers with 25; she also added team-bests of eight rebounds and four steals while dishing out a game-high six assists. Southern Vermont was led by sophomore forward Sarah McDonald (Cohoes, N.Y.) who dropped 18 points and grabbed seven caroms.
Southern Vermont saw freshman guard Amber Dow (Panton, Vt.) record a season-high 13 points, going 3-for-4 from three-point range. Sophomore guard Amber Flagg (Windsor, Conn.) pitched in with 10 points, seven rebounds and a team-high five assists while sophomore forward Kala MacKenzie (Fair Haven, Vt.) led the Mountaineers with 11 boards and tallied a career-high eight blocks.
Ooms was followed on the Becker side by 15 points from junior Brooke Martel (Griswold, Conn.) and another 14 from senior forward Tatiana Mojica (Worcester, Mass.). The Hawks went 20-for-27 (74.1 percent) from the free throw line with help from a 12-of-15 performance by Ooms.
With the game knotted at 61-61 with four minutes to play, Becker closed it out on a 10-2 run while forcing three Southern Vermont turnovers in the stretch. The Mountaineers owned just a slight edge on the boards (48-43) and in the paint, scoring 24 points to BC's 20. Second-chance points were even at 13 apiece, and Southern Vermont scored 18 points off the 14 Hawk giveaways while Becker notched just 17 off the 22 Mountaineer mishaps. But the free throw line was pivotal as SVC went 11-for-20 (55.0 percent), and the visitors were able to hit their shots at the charity stripe for the win.
The perimeter game was critical in the early going for the Mountaineers as three of their first four baskets were from beyond the arc including two from Dow; the third saw Flagg draw a foul, subsequently sinking the free throw for the four-point play and a 12-6 lead. Southern Vermont continued to convert on the offensive end, but Becker would not go away and stayed within striking distance with buckets of its own.
With 5:40 to go in the opening period, Hawk freshman Elizabeth McNiff (Leominster, Mass.) drew a foul and sank both free throws to close the Mountaineer lead down to 23-21, but Southern Vermont responded with two takeaways and four unanswered to open the lead back to six (27-21). The two sides traded scores down the stretch, the last being a Martel layup with nine seconds to go to see her team trail 32-27 going into the break.
Mojica led all players at halftime with nine points while three Mountaineers stood at seven apiece. Southern Vermont controlled a 27-19 rebound advantage, and its 4-for-7 three-point clip during the first 20 minutes helped supply the lead. MacKenzie had five of her blocks in the first half.
It would take Becker just one minute of play following the intermission to tie things up at 32-32; Ooms picked the pocket of SVC sophomore Javasha White (Schenectady, N.Y.) and took it down for the layup, and then Hawk sophomore Gabrielle Gallo (Northport, N.Y.) spotted up for a game-tying three-ball. The Mountaineers dampened the BC momentum with five unanswered to regain the lead, but Becker would continue to battle and stay close. At the 14:00 minute mark and down by one (39-38), Ooms found Martel who knocked down a three to give the Hawks their first lead since being up 2-0 just 14 seconds into the game.
Turnovers on both ends of the floor preceded McDonald taking the ball up strong to get the basket and the foul, converting the freebie to take back the lead at 42-41. The next eight minutes saw five lead changes and five ties as neither side could break away with a cushion. Two Gallo free throws made it 47-47, but McDonald came right back with another and-one play to go back ahead by three. A minute and a half later, MacKenzie got her hand on a Gallo shot, but Becker kept possession off the rebound and found Mojica for a jumper to close it back to one at 52-51. Misses from both teams then allowed BC senior Jacqueline Chila (Monroe, Conn.) to get inside and make a layup for the 53-52 Hawk advantage.
That lead would be short lived as the Mountaineers scored eight of the game's next 10 points, the last being a jumper by White to put the hosts up 58-55. Martel then took back control with six unanswered off an and-one of her own and a basket from downtown to go ahead 61-58. Seconds later, however, Flagg pulled up and drained a trey to once again tie it with 4:09 to go.
From there, Becker's experience reared its head with Ooms hitting a huge three to retake the lead and force a Mountaineer timeout. MacKenzie would make a layup at the 2:05 mark, but that would be the last score for Southern Vermont as the Hawks managed the clock and were able to draw foul calls. Becker hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final 1:46 while the Mountaineers went cold from the floor in an effort to close in. Ooms finished it out by hitting both ends of the double bonus as the Hawks took home the 71-63 final.
Both teams are back in action on Saturday at 1 p.m. when the Mountaineers (5-17, 3-12 NECC) visit Wheelock College and Becker (8-13, 8-7 NECC) hosts Daniel Webster College.