BOSTON, Mass. — A hard-fought game came down to the final minutes Saturday afternoon as the Southern Vermont College women's basketball team was edged 81-75 by Wheelock College in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) action at Winsor Court.
The contest was tied 40-40 at halftime before both teams added 20 more points in the third quarter. With the score knotted at 71-71 with 2:58 to play, the hosting Wildcats pulled ahead and maintained their separation from the free throw line to close out the season sweep of the Mountaineers.
Southern Vermont falls to 11-12 on the year with the loss, dropping below .500 for the first time this season; SVC is now 8-8 in NECC play with two games left to play. The Mountaineers next head to Elms College on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. league tip-off.
Senior captain Amber Flagg (Windsor, Conn.) led SVC with 24 points, tying her season-high of eight assists in the effort. Classmate Shaniquewa Barnes (Landover, Md.) notched 14 points and six rebounds while sophomore Chloe Longe (Enosburg Falls, Vt.) had 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Senior Turquoia Johnson (Rockville, Md.) came off the bench to score 12 points and pull down a game-best 11 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season.
SVC went 30-for-62 (48.4 percent) from field goal range while the Wildcats shot at a 40.4 percent (23-57) clip on the floor. The Mountaineers grabbed 39 boards to WC's 31 and outscored Wheelock by a 34-24 margin in the paint. The hosts took a 25-12 advantage in points off turnovers and had a slim 15-14 edge in second-chance points.
Wheelock scored six straight points from the free throw line in the onset of the afternoon, going up 11-6 before SVC junior captain Amber Dow (Vergennes, Vt.) responded with a triple on the other end to cut the deficit down to two. An ensuing Flagg layup tied the game at 11-11, but the Wildcats would soon-after score eight unanswered points to go on top 21-13 with 1:56 left to go in the first. SVC would close out the quarter with a 7-0 run, however, Flagg dropping all of her free throws after being fouled on a three-point attempt before a pair of Southern Vermont layups made it a 21-20 affair at the horn.
Barnes scored the opening bucket of the second period to give the Mountaineers their first lead of the day, and the teams traded scores over the next few minutes as the battle continued. A basket by SVC sophomore Danielle Simmons (Rensselaer, N.Y.) put SVC on top 30-26, but Wheelock answered with a 7-2 run to regain the upper hand. Flagg dropped a trey with 1:40 on the clock for Southern Vermont to go back up by a 37-35 margin, only to see the Wildcats notch the next four points. Longe answered on the next trip down the floor with another SVC basket from downtown, and a 1-for-2 WC performance from the line sent the game to the intermission deadlocked at 40-40.
Wheelock reclaimed the advantage after the break with long-range shooting, the Wildcats knocking down three triples in the first 2:30 of the frame to go up 52-47. The hosts then opened their lead up to 10 with six straight points, forcing a Mountaineer timeout at the 6:00 mark of the third. Southern Vermont would hold WC to only two points through the rest of the period, those points coming from the free throw line while SVC took to a 12-2 run to once again tie the contest. Four Mountaineers got into the scoring during that stretch, Flagg registering four points while Barnes and Johnson each added another three to make it 60-60 heading into the final stanza.
WC went ahead with the first four points of the fourth, only to be answered by jumpers from Johnson and Flagg. Another Flagg basket with 5:45 to play put SVC on top 68-67, but a 4-1 Wheelock spurt gave the Wildcats the 71-69 advantage in the waning minutes. Longe took a dish from Flagg and tied the game with a jump shot before WC went back in front with a bucket at the 1:49 mark. The Mountaineers' offense couldn't connect over the next minute as Wheelock went a perfect 6-for-6 from the line, putting the hosts on top 79-71. Scoring was traded through the final 14 seconds, the Wildcats' efficiency from the charity stripe holding strong to finish off the league win.