NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — After a 26-day layoff, the Southern Vermont College women's basketball team got back to regular season action Monday evening as the visiting Mountaineers fell 68-59 at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in non-conference play.
The Trailblazers held just a 46-45 lead after the third quarter but went on to top SVC by eight points in the final frame for the victory. The loss snaps Southern Vermont's four-game winning streak and drops the team's overall record to 6-3.
The Mountaineers get back to New England Collegiate Conference play with their next game as they host Mitchell College on Saturday at 1 p.m.; Southern Vermont is 3-0 in league action heading into the weekend.
SVC was led by senior captain Amber Flagg (Winsor, Conn.) who dropped 13 points to go with her team-best four assists and game-high five steals. Classmate Kala MacKenzie (Fair Haven, Vt.) was right behind with 12 points, pulling down a game-high 15 rebounds to miss her career-high boards mark by just one; it was her second straight double-double and second of the season. Junior captain Amber Dow (Vergennes, Vt.) added another 12 points while notching three assists and three steals, and senior Shaniquewa Barnes (Landover, Md.) tallied 10 points and eight rebounds off the Southern Vermont bench.
The Mountaineers trailed 33-28 at the halftime break but fought back to make it a one-point game over the ensuing 10 minutes. SVC pulled ahead early in the fourth quarter, only to see MCLA score 13 unanswered points midway through the final stanza for a lead it would not relinquish. The Trailblazers shot 41.5 percent (27-65) from the floor while Southern Vermont finished with a 24-64 (37.5 percent) field goal clip on the night. SVC outrebounded the hosts 46-38 and tallied 18 second-chance points to MCLA's 11.
Southern Vermont grabbed an early 4-2 lead on jumpers by MacKenzie and Flagg, but MCLA regained a slight advantage with the next two baskets. That started a 12-2 Trailblazer run which put the hosts in front 14-6 with just 1:17 left in the first. SVC registered the following three points, only to see MCLA knock down a trey from the left side right before the buzzer to go up 17-9 at the end of the opening quarter.
Flagg, Dow and Barnes each scored two points in the early going of the second as a 6-2 Mountaineer run cut their deficit to four (19-15). Buckets went back-and-forth, a Dow triple being answered on the other end by MCLA for the Trailblazers to take a 27-20 edge. SVC stayed within striking distance through the remainder of the period, Barnes getting a layup to go before the halftime horn for the Mountaineers to go into the locker room down 33-28.
Three MCLA free throws started the third quarter, and an old-fashioned three-point play then put the Trailblazers in front 39-30. After scores were recorded on each end, Southern Vermont took to a 9-0 run with the help of three-pointers by Dow and Flagg to tie the contest at 43-43. MCLA ended its scoring drought with a trey on the next trip down the floor before Dow hit a left-handed floating jumper through the lane to make it 46-45 in favor of the Trailblazers; Dow had seven points in the frame before the final 48 seconds were scoreless for MCLA to take its marginal advantage into the last quarter.
SVC senior Turquoia Johnson (Rockville, Md.) tallied a layup for the first points of the fourth and the Mountaineer's first lead since the 7:02 mark of the opening quarter. MCLA came back with four straight points to regain the lead, but a MacKenie and-one play tied things at 50-50. Baskets were then traded before the Trailblazers stormed to a 13-0 run that put them in front for good, going up 65-52 with 2:24 to play. MCLA hit enough of its free throws down the stretch to make Southern Vermont scoring the final four points of the game null as the hosts walked out with their eighth win in nine games.