BENNINGTON, Vt. — The Southern Vermont College men's basketball team held the visiting Becker College Hawks without a score through the final 5:42 of action Thursday night to pull away for a 64-51 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) victory at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.
SVC trailed by one at halftime, and Becker was still up by just a point with 7:11 to go in the second period. The Mountaineers finished strongly, however, outscoring Becker by an 18-3 margin through the remainder of regulation to close out the win and clinch a first round bye in the upcoming NECC postseason tournament.
Southern Vermont's 11th straight win improves the team's record to 19-3 overall and 13-0 in league play while the Hawks fall to 12-10 on the season and 9-4 against the Conference. The Mountaineers have now won their last five meetings with Becker, concluding their second straight season sweep of Becker Thursday night.
Both teams line up against Wheelock College for their next game, Southern Vermont visiting the Wildcats on Saturday for a 2 p.m. tip-off while Becker hosts WC Tuesday night at 7 p.m. With a win in any of their final three games of the regular season, the Mountaineers will lock up the No. 1 seed and right to host the league's semifinal and championship rounds.
SVC junior Rayshawn Taylor (Silver Spring, Md.) led the hosts with 14 points, adding four rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes off the bench. Senior DeShawn Hamlet (Hartford, Conn.) was right behind with 13 points while pulling down a game-high 12 boards for his seventh double-double of the season, and classmate Casey Hall (Albany, N.Y.) had 10 points, nine rebounds and four steals in the win.
Becker sophomore Samuel Durodola (Rosedale, N.Y.) tallied a game-high 26 points, going 12-for-24 from the floor while leading the team with 11 boards for the double-double; he also had three assists in the effort. Becker freshman Kareem Davis (Lowell, Mass.) provided 10 points on the night, and senior Reginald Finney (Ansonia, Conn.) grabbed eight caroms to go with his two steals.
SVC shot 39.6 percent (21-53) from field goal range while holding Becker to a 35.4 percent (23-65) clip from the floor. The Mountaineers were disciplined on the night, allowing Becker to shoot just seven free throws in the game (2-7). Southern Vermont took down a 43-37 edge on the glass, and the SVC bench outscored that of Becker by a 28-8 margin. Becker scored 13 points off turnovers to the Mountaineers' seven and finished with a 28-22 upper hand in points from the paint.
Scoring was slow in the onset of the evening as Becker led just 5-2 at the 16:30 mark of the first. Southern Vermont would go in front with a strong 13-0 run on treys by Hamlet and sophomore Daemond Carter (Forestville, Md.), but Becker was able to keep pace through the midpoint of the half. BC junior Khairi Mosley (Elizabeth, N.J.) came off the bench to knock down a triple, only to have SVC junior Davante Jordan (Great Mills, Md.) respond with one of his own on the ensuing possession.
Becker then took to an 8-0 run to pull ahead, Durodola notching four of those points before junior captain Kyle Credle (Queens, N.Y.) battled down low and backed himself up for the 20-18 go-ahead jumper in the paint with 3:34 left to go. The lead would change sides four more times through the final three minutes of the half, Durodola knocking down a jumper to put the Hawks on top before SVC senior William Bromirski (Cambridge, N.Y.) swung a great right-handed bounce pass into the post to Hamlet for the lay-in. Durodola would get another jumper to go with 39 ticks on the clock, putting Becker up 26-25 for the marginal halftime advantage.
The Hawks came out of the break and went on a 6-2 spurt to increase their lead to five, Durodola scoring all of the Becker points in that stretch with the last two coming on a pretty spin move through the paint. SVC cut it back to two when Hamlet spotted up from the left edge of the arc, knocking down his second triple of the night to make it a 32-30 Becker upper hand. Six straight Becker points, however, pushed the visitors' separation up to eight and forced a Southern Vermont timeout.
SVC came out of the stoppage with some fire, going on an 11-2 surge to reclaim the lead; Hall had two baskets in that time, including a pick-and-run for a fast-break layup, while Jordan dropped a bucket from downtown to help put the Mountaineers up 41-40 at the 10:36 mark. After Becker went back on top with two Durodola layups in a 44-second stretch, Bromirski took a Hamlet pass about eight feet behind the right edge of the arc and drilled the three to tie things at 44-44. Hamlet then drained a wide-open trey from the top of the perimeter for the Southern Vermont lead, but Becker went back on top with the next two baskets as the teams battled back-and-forth.
The Mountaineers went 4-for-4 from the charity stripe in a minute's time to go on top at 51-48, only to see Davis bang home a three from the left side to tie things with 5:42 to go. That would be the last Hawk score of the night as Southern Vermont pulled away with strong perimeter shooting. SVC sophomore Nate Goldsmith (Capitol Heights, Md.) answered Davis' three-ball with one of his own on the next trip down the floor, and Bromirski drained another about a minute later for the Mountaineers to go up by six. Goldsmith took a Taylor dish and knocked down his second bucket from the outside with 3:31 to play, and SVC forced two Becker turnovers down the stretch while adding a pair baskets for the league sweep.