NEW LONDON, Conn. — The Southern Vermont College women's basketball team outscored hosting Mitchell College by eight points through the final 20 minutes of Saturday's New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) matchup, but it was not enough to overcome a sizable Mariner lead built up in the first half as the visiting Mountaineers fell 68-54.
MC went up by 17 in the opening period before taking a 34-12 advantage into the intermission. SVC cut into the deficit through the third to make it a 52-39 ballgame, but Mitchell was able to hold off Southern Vermont in the final stanza to close out the season sweep of the Mountaineers.
SVC falls to 11-10 on the year and 8-6 in league play with now just two weeks left of the regular season. The team is back at home on Wednesday, hosting Daniel Webster College for a 6 p.m. NECC tip-off.
Southern Vermont was led offensively by junior captain Amber Dow (Vergennes, Vt.) who dropped 13 points on the day, 11 of those coming in the second half. Sophomore Chloe Longe (Enosburg Falls, Vt.) had a team-leading eight rebounds to go with her 11 points and three assists while senior Shaniquewa Barnes (Landover, Md.) added another 11 points, five boards, three steals and two blocks. Sophomore Danielle Simmons (Rensselaer, N.Y.) provided seven points, six rebounds and two assists off the bench, and senior Kala MacKenzie (Fair Haven, Vt.) had five points, five rebounds, three blocks and two assists in the effort.
Additionally, senior captain Amber Flagg (Windsor, Conn.) scored four points for SVC, putting her over the 1,700 career point mark with 1,702.
The Mountaineers shot 43.8 percent (21-48) from the floor on the afternoon while Mitchell finished with a 36.8 percent (25-68) clip in field goal range. The Mariners grabbed a 43-38 edge on the glass and utilized their 13 steals to outscore SVC by a 34-16 margin in points off turnovers.
Both sides struggled on the offensive end of the floor to start the game, seven combined turnovers and six total missed shots paving the way for Mitchell to lead just 4-0 at the 5:00 mark of the first. MC got its scoring going later in the frame, holding SVC without a field goal in the quarter to take a 17-point lead into the second.
Simmons and Mountaineer freshman Amber Lesure (Cheshire, Mass.) notched back-to-back layups to get Southern Vermont's side of the board ticking, only to see MC come back with 14 unanswered points to open up its separation. A Dow jumper at the 2:28 mark of the second preceded Longe going to the charity stripe twice in a 12-second span, the sophomore knocking down three of the freebies as part of a 7-0 SVC spurt that helped cut it to a 34-12 Mitchell upper hand at halftime.
Southern Vermont came out of the break and shot much better from the floor, the visitors going 17-for-31 (54.8 percent) from field goal range over the final 20 minutes of play. The Mountaineers scored on their first three possessions of the third quarter, Dow dropping a triple to make it a 38-19 Mariner lead; the SVC captain would go 5-for-6 from the floor in the second half to close out the day with a 6-for-8 field goal performance.
The Mountaineers inched closer to Mitchell as Longe completed an and-one play, and a Barnes layup then ignited a 12-2 Southern Vermont run that cut the deficit to single digits; Barnes had another pair of baskets in that stretch while MacKenzie finished off an old-fashioned three-point play to make it a 45-36 Mariner lead. MC closed out the third on a 5-2 spurt, going on top 52-39 heading into the final quarter.
Scores were traded in the onset of the fourth, Dow and Longe dropping back-to-back layups to keep the Mountaineers in striking distance. Mitchell was able to find an answer after each SVC bucket the rest of the way, however, maintaining its cushion with the help of perimeter shooting. A Barnes and-one play set the score at 61-51 with 3:04 on the clock, but a Mariner trey pushed it back to a 14-point MC lead. Simmons responded with a deep bucket of her own on the next trip down the floor, the last SVC score of the day coming at the 1:54 mark as Mitchell kept the visitors off the board the rest of the way to close out the league win.