CHICOPEE, Mass. – For the third-straight year, the Southern Vermont College men's basketball team will take the No. 1 seed in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) postseason tournament as the Mountaineers defeated Elms College 75-72 at Picknelly Arena Thursday night.
SVC secured the top spot in the league's playoff bracket as Daniel Webster College defeated Becker College 87-83. Even with a Southern Vermont loss on Saturday, the Mountaineers will still take the right to host throughout the playoffs with their tie-breaking season sweep of Becker.
Southern Vermont went into the intermission with a 30-29 halftime edge, and the visitors were able to stake a three-point lead late in the contest. Elms had a chance for a game-tying triple at the final horn, but it would fall off the mark for SVC to take its sixth-straight victory against the Blazers.
The Mountaineers conclude the regular season on Saturday when SVC heads to Daniel Webster College for a 1 p.m. NECC tip.
Southern Vermont senior Rayshawn Taylor (Silver Spring, Md.) tallied team-highs of 22 points and nine rebounds while adding three assists and two steals to his line; he went a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line as SVC was 24-for-29 from the charity stripe during the matchup.
Fellow SVC senior Nate Goldsmith (Capitol Heights, Md.) notched 11 points and eight boards, and sophomore Josh Borders (Miami, Fla.) tallied another 11 points and three rebounds. Junior Mike Pierre (Melrose, N.Y.) had 10 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals as senior Davante Jordan (Great Mills, Md.) added eight points and three boards off the bench.
Southern Vermont went 23-for-53 (43.4 percent) from the floor while Elms shot 41.3 percent (26-63) from field goal range. EC pulled down a slight 37-35 edge in rebounds, but the Mountaineers were able to outscore the hosts 32-26 in points from the key.
EC scored the first four points of the game before SVC came back with a pair of buckets to tie it. The visitors gained a one-point edge momentarily with a Pierre jumper, only to see the lead go back-and-forth a couple times over the next few minutes. A pair of Taylor jumpers made it a 12-11 Mountaineer advantage before Elms answered on the ensuing possession to reclaim the upper hand.
The Blazers utilized a pair of threes from the right side to stay ahead, but Goldsmith would then sub back in and drill a pair of long-range baskets to make it just a 21-19 Elms lead. Mountaineer sophomore Kyle Depollar (Rockville, Md.) followed with a steal-and-score—taking the ball from the top of his own arc and bringing all the way down for an easy, game-tying layup.
EC answered with four straight towards the end of the first half, but Taylor and Borders each connected on their pair of free throws to once again tie it up. After Elms got the next bucket, Pierre drilled a trey off a Taylor dish with 40 ticks left before Borders added another two freebies to give his team a three-point edge. The Blazers worked the clock to get the final possession, and they would see a tip-in get counted at the buzzer to go into the break down by just one.
The hosts hit a triple on the first possession of the second stanza, but SVC came back with six-consecutive points to go back in front with the help of a fast-break layup by Payne. Pierre worked the ball at the top of the perimeter before sending in a great dish to an open Goldsmith at the post for an easy two which put the visitors ahead 38-34.
The Blazers connected on a triple on their next possession, and they followed a Taylor and-one play with four straight to tie it at 41-41. Depollar knocked down a three from the right corner during a 13-2 Mountaineer run which put SVC up by 11 for their biggest lead of the night; Jordan had a pair of layups during that spurt while SVC went 6-for-6 from the line to push it into double digits.
Scoring was traded over the next few minutes with a Payne reverse being answered by another trey from the Blazers. Elms then got the next six points to go down, cutting it to just a two-point SVC lead. EC would tie it at 58-58 with another trey, but Borders put his team back on top with one of his own on the ensuing possession. A Borders step-up jumper helped cap a 5-0 SVC spurt, and Taylor then continued his hot hand from the free throw line with a pair at the stripe to keep his team up by five.
Southern Vermont wasn't nearly out of the woods as Elms came back with four straight on the back of another triple to get within one. Taylor went strong to the rack with 53 seconds left and got the basket while drawing the foul, and he connected on his 10th free throw attempt to put the Mountaineers back on top by four.
EC drilled yet another trey on the next trip down the floor, making it a one-possession game once again. After both teams used a timeout, Taylor drew in the Blazer defense before dropping it off to Jordan for an uncontested two with 11 ticks left on the clock. Elms ran the floor and put up a game-tying attempt at the buzzer, but it went wayward for SVC to celebrate its 13th-straight win.
– #LetsGoSVC –