Mitchell Edges Women's Basketball 64-61 in NECC Battle

Mitchell Edges Women's Basketball 64-61 in NECC Battle

BENNINGTON, Vt. — The Southern Vermont College women's basketball team pushed hard in the fourth quarter to cut into its deficit, but the visiting Mitchell College Mariners were able to hold off SVC to win 64-61 Saturday afternoon in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) action at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.

Southern Vermont trailed just 30-29 at the halftime break before Mitchell opened its lead up to nine with just under four minutes to go in regulation. The Mountaineers cut it down to three in the final minute, only to see the Mariners hit enough free throws to clinch the league victory.

MC improves to 2-6 on the year and 1-2 in NECC play while Southern Vermont falls to 6-4 overall, 3-1 in Conference action.

SVC turns right around for a Sunday morning tip-off, welcoming the University of Maine-Fort Kent to the MAC at 11 a.m. Mitchell is next in action on Tuesday, hosting Daniel Webster College for a 4 p.m. NECC start.

Mountaineer senior captain Amber Flagg (Windsor, Conn.) led the team with 14 points, adding five assists and four rebounds to her line. Classmate Shaniquewa Barnes (Landover, Md.) notched her fourth double-double of the year with 10 points and a team-best 11 boards while sophomore Chloe Longe (Enosburg Falls, Vt.) registered a season-high 10 points with her first start of the 2015-16 campaign.

Southern Vermont senior Kala MacKenzie (Fair Haven, Vt.) tallied eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks, and junior captain Amber Dow (Vergennes, Vt.) notched another eight points to go with her five rebounds and three steals. Senior Turquoia Johnson (Rockville, Md.) chipped in with eight points and nine rebounds off the SVC bench.

Mariner senior captain Amanda Garcia (New Britain, Conn.) recorded game-highs of 20 points and 14 rebounds while swiping three steals in the win. MC freshman Francesca Pinard (Arlington, Mass.) scored nine points to go with her nine boards, and senior Chelsea Newman (Manchester, Conn.) tabbed another nine points and grabbed six caroms in reserve time.

SVC went 24-61 (39.3 percent) from field goal range as Mitchell was 23-76 (30.3 percent) on the floor. The Mountaineers connected on six of their 15 (40 percent) three-point attempts while MC went just 2-11 from deep (18.2 percent). The Mariners grabbed a 50-45 advantage on the glass and outscored Southern Vermont 21-15 in points off turnovers. Mitchell's 23-13 edge in offensive rebounds led to an 18-8 upper hand in second-chance points for the guests.

The Mariners went on a 10-2 run late in the opening quarter, going up 15-10 before a single Dow free throw cut SVC's deficit to four at the end of the stanza. Flagg knocked down a three-pointer to begin the second, starting a 12-2 Mountaineer run with baskets by five Southern Vermont players to put the hosts in front 23-17 midway through the frame. Mitchell responded with six unanswered points to tie things up before SVC freshman Amber Lesure (Cheshire, Mass.) drilled a trey on the next possession to put her team back in front. A Dow bucket from beyond the perimeter put the Mountaineers on top 29-24 with 1:21 to go in the quarter, but a pair of Garcia layups sandwiched two Mariner free throws as the visitors closed out the half with six straight points to regain the lead and go into the intermission ahead 30-29.

Southern Vermont started the second half with a Barnes layup on the opening possession, and the Mountaineers then rattled off six straight, capped by a Dow triple, to take a 37-32 advantage. Mitchell went back in front with six unanswered of its own, the last four coming off Garcia's hand, but a Longe basket from behind the arc immediately sent the lead to SVC once again. A 6-2 MC spurt gave the Mariners a two-point edge, only to see MacKenzie lay one in to tie things at 44-44 with 2:05 to go in the third. Francesca notched the final basket of the period, converting a layup to send the game to the fourth with her team on top by two.

Mitchell opened its lead up to seven with the first five points of the final quarter, forcing Southern Vermont to use a timeout. Longe came out of the stoppage and connected on another three-pointer to slow down the MC momentum, and an ensuing Barnes free throw made it a 51-48 game at the 6:42 mark. Back-to-back Mariner baskets bumped the lead back to seven, and a later Garcia jumper then put Mitchell on top 59-50. Flagg knocked down a bucket of her own on the next trip down the floor before adding another after an MC turnover, cutting it to 59-54 in favor of the Mariners.

Scoring was scarce over the next two minutes of play, Mitchell notching just a single free throw while Johnson dropped a jumper to make it 60-56 with 1:23 on the clock. Forced to foul, SVC sent Garcia to the line in the final minute, but she would only hit the first of two shots at the line. Low on time, SVC ran the floor quickly and got the ball to Longe who laid in two to get the Mountaineers within three at 61-58. A pair of Mariner free throws put it back to a five-point game, but Flagg converted an and-one play in the waning seconds to give her team a chance. Southern Vermont fouled Garcia, and the senior hit the front-end of her bonus opportunity; her second attempt was errant but grabbed by a teammate as the clock wound down for MC to pick up its first league victory of the year.