BENNINGTON, Vt. — Trailing by just two after the third quarter Saturday afternoon, Southern Vermont College was outscored by 10 points in the final 10 minutes by a visiting Regis College squad to fall 77-65 in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) women's basketball action at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.
The Pride led 37-33 at halftime before SVC closed in to make it a 58-56 ballgame going into the fourth. RC pulled away in the final stanza, finishing off the win in both teams' regular season finale.
Prior to the start of the game, Southern Vermont recognized and honored its five senior players and senior student manager: Shaniquewa Barnes (Landover, Md.), Amber Flagg (Windsor, Conn.), Kala MacKenzie (Fair Haven, Vt.), Marissa Myers (Chatham, N.Y.), Turquoia Johnson (Rockville, Md.), and Kayla Dennison.
Southern Vermont (11-14, 8-10 NECC) takes the fifth seed in next week's postseason tournament, gearing up to visit fourth-seeded Elms College on Tuesday night; SVC split its season series with the Blazers. Regis (22-3, 18-0 NECC) will prepare to host the semifinal and championship rounds on Friday and Saturday, earning the first-round bye and No. 1 seed with its fifth straight undefeated Conference record; the Pride have now won all 90 of their NECC regular season games since joining the league for the 2011-12 season.
SVC was led by a 24-point performance from Flagg who became the College's all-time scoring leader during the afternoon, surpassing Charles Beekman '02 who finished his career on the men's side with 1,770 career points; Flagg now has 1,786 collegiate points heading into the playoffs. She was followed by Johnson who dropped 14 points, adding a team-high 10 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the year. MacKenzie also pulled down 10 boards while blocking two shots, and sophomore Danielle Simmons (Rensselaer, N.Y.) came off the bench to notch eight points in 13 minutes of action.
Regis sophomore Brittany Stone (West Bridgewater, Mass.) registered a game-high 28 points for the Pride, snagging a game-best 11 rebounds for the double-double; she was 9-for-11 from the floor and a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Junior captain Amanda Hawkesworth (Abington, Mass.) chipped in with another 16 points, nine boards and a game-high seven assists, and freshman Sam D'Angelo (Woburn, Mass.) had 14 points and four rebounds in reserve time for RC.
The Pride shot 42.6 percent (26-61) from field goal range as the Mountaineers went 21-for-65 (32.3 percent) from the floor. RC was also 23-for-24 (95.8 percent) from the charity stripe on the afternoon. SVC grabbed a 42-38 edge on the glass, and both teams scored 24 points off their opposition's turnovers. The Pride took a strong 42-26 advantage in points in the paint, and their bench edged SVC's by a 20-11 tally.
Four Hawkesworth baskets in the opening five minutes gave Regis the 10-4 upper hand, but Myers connected on a bucket from downtown to cut it back to a three-point game. Stone would go 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the last 2:41 of the opening quarter to put her team up 16-9, only to see the Mountaineers answer with five free throws of their own as time waned. D'Angelo got a final layup to go with just a few ticks on the clock, sending the game to the second period with RC on top 18-14.
Stone got the Pride rolling once play resumed, notching the first six of 15 unanswered points that gave the visitors a commanding lead at 33-14; Hawkesworth had a pair of buckets in that stretch while D'Angelo added a three-ball, Regis blanking Southern Vermont through the first four minutes of the frame. Johnson took a pass from Flagg and laid it in to get the Mountaineer offense going, and the tides quickly turned as SVC stormed back.
Southern Vermont forced four Pride turnovers in a three-minute span, using those takeaways to close the gap with a 19-2 run. Johnson completed an old-fashioned three-point play in that time, adding another six points in the surge while Barnes had five. RC was able to get to the line one final time before the horn, freshman Maura Russell (Braintree, Mass.) downing her pair of freebies with just one second left to send the game to intermission with the Pride ahead 37-33.
The battle continued after the break as the teams traded scores in the onset of the third. A Flagg layup made it a 43-39 RC lead, but D'Angelo knocked down a three on the next possession before senior Alyssa Lanpher (Princeton, Mass.) added a jumper soon-after to give her team a 48-39 cushion. Flagg drilled another trey as SVC dug in, and Simmons then completed an and-one play to rile up the Mountaineer faithful and cut it to a 48-45 Pride edge. Both sides connected on their free throws in the final minutes before Flagg beat the buzzer with a layup that made it just a two-point Regis advantage (58-56).
RC came out of the stoppage and controlled the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, scoring seven unanswered points to go in front by nine; Stone had a pair of layups in that spurt while Hawkesworth added another for Regis. Flagg would bury a three-pointer from the top of the arc at the 6:32 mark to make it a 65-59 ballgame, and she then converted an and-one play minutes later to trim it back to a six-point SVC deficit. The Pride closed out the day with momentum, however, Stone and sophomore Brandi Bonneau (Derry, N.H.) scoring back-to-back baskets as RC started to pull away. Four Regis free throws in the last 1:06 of action extended the visitor's separation, closing out the Conference win for the team's fifth straight undefeated league schedule.