CHICOPEE, Mass. — The Southern Vermont College women's basketball team visited Elms College Tuesday night, falling 90-76 in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) action at Picknelly Arena.
The Mountaineers were still able to clinch their second straight postseason berth Tuesday night as Daniel Webster College lost to Wheelock College, making way for SVC to lock up its spot in the playoffs.
Southern Vermont trailed 40-30 at halftime and was down eight with three minutes to go in the fourth quarter. EC was able to connect on its free throws as time waned, extending its lead for the final tally.
SVC moves to 11-13 on the year and 8-9 in league action with one regular season game left to go. Southern Vermont concludes the regular season schedule on Saturday, hosting top-standing Regis College for a 1 p.m. tip-off in conjunction with SVC's Senior Day.
Mountaineer senior Turquoia Johnson (Rockville, Md.) came off the bench to lead all players with a career-best 27 points, adding a team-high nine rebounds in the effort. Classmate Amber Flagg (Windsor, Conn.) followed with 18 points and six rebounds, and the SVC captain dished out a game-high eight assists while swiping a pair of steals. Fellow senior Shaniquewa Barnes (Landover, Md.) tallied eight points and seven boards while classmate Kala MacKenzie (Fair Haven, Vt.) had seven points, four rebounds and a pair of blocks on the night.
Southern Vermont went 27-for-72 (37.5 percent) from field-goal range as Elms connected on 47.5 percent (28-59) of its shots from the floor. EC spent a good deal of time at the free throw line during the evening, going 30-for-39 from the stripe to the Mountaineers' 17-for-24. The Blazers owned a 47-34 advantage on the glass and outscored SVC in points off turnovers by a 20-10 margin. EC also had a slim 36-34 edge in points from the paint in the win.
Flagg scored five straight points in the early going to put SVC up 5-2, but Elms answered with seven of the next eight points to grab a three-point lead. A Blazer triple helped the hosts take to an 11-2 run before a trey by Southern Vermont freshman Ashley Boise (New Haven, Vt.) cut it to a 22-15 Elms upper hand. EC hit a pair of free throws with 19 ticks left in the first quarter, but MacKenzie got a layup to go just seconds before the buzzer to trim it back to a seven-point deficit at 24-17.
Neither side could get the ball into the hoop through the first two minutes of the second frame before Elms registered seven unanswered points to go up by 14. Johnson put home six straight Mountaineer points as the teams went back-and-forth through the midpoint of the stanza, EC going up 39-24 with just under three minutes to go in the half. SVC closed out the quarter on a 6-1 spurt, all points from both squads coming at the free throw line as Elms took a 40-30 advantage into the locker room.
After scores were traded in the onset of the third, a Blazer basket from downtown put EC on top 49-34. Layups from MacKenzie and Johnson allowed Southern Vermont to maintain its separation from Elms, and a three-ball by Mountaineer senior Marissa Myers (Chatham, N.Y.) in the final minute of the frame helped cut it down to a 61-48 Blazer lead. Elms got a bucket with 14 seconds on the clock, only to see Johnson tip-in an offensive rebound at the horn to put EC ahead by 13 once again.
SVC had a quick stint of momentum in the fourth quarter as Johnson completed an old-fashioned three-point play before Flagg had a steal-and-score to make it a 68-57 Blazer advantage. Elms free throws pushed it back up to a 15-point separation with 5:49 to go, but the Mountaineers then found themselves down 11 on a pair of consecutive Johnson layups.
Another Johnson basket from down low was followed by a second Myers trey on the next SVC possession, making it just an eight-point game (75-67) at the 2:58 mark. That would be the closest Southern Vermont would get the rest of the way, however, as Elms rattled off seven unanswered points to go on top by 15. EC eventually extended its lead to 18 on free throws in the last minute of play, finishing off the win to split the season series between the two sides.