Bulldogs Can't Catch First-Place Mountaineers, 84-68

Bulldogs Can't Catch First-Place Mountaineers, 84-68

BENNINGTON, Vt. – For the second time this year, the Southern Vermont College men's basketball team defeated Dean College in New England Collegiate Conference action—doing so on Saturday with an 84-68 home win at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.

After SVC brought a 43-29 lead into the second half, the Mountaineers put themselves on top by 18 for their biggest lead of the day. Dean would cut that in half and get the deficit to nine with 5:18 left to go, but Southern Vermont pulled away at the other end to down the Bulldogs in their first-ever visit to the MAC.

SVC has now won four-straight games and starts the latter end of the Conference schedule with a 7-1 league mark (15-4 overall). Dean drops to 10-8 on the year and 4-4 against the NECC.

The Mountaineers next hold the second of their three-game home stand on Wednesday when they host Wheelock College for a 7 p.m. league tip. DC is back in action on Tuesday with a 5:30 p.m. Tuesday tilt at Newbury College.

SVC senior Mike Pierre (Melrose, N.Y.) led all players offensively as he hit a career-high five 3-pointers to total 25 points; he also had 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season while dishing out three assists. Classmate Claude Payne (South Plainfield, N.J.) had 16 points and five boards, and junior Kyle Depollar (Rockville, Md.) came off the bench to add 14 points in 17 minutes. Senior Daemond Carter (Forestville, Md.) tallied 11 points while junior Andre Hodo (Rockville, Md.) tied Pierre's game-high of 10 rebounds.

Dean junior captain Armani Baker (North Providence, R.I.) led his team with 18 points, and he also pulled down eight rebounds on the day. Classmate and captain Randolf Thurman (Swampscott, Mass.) notched 14 points and a game-high six assists while sophomore Josh Croskey (Union, N.J.) chipped in with 12 points. Sophomore Marquez Walls (St. Petersburg, Fla.) played 27 minutes off the bench—scoring 11 points and grabbing three steals in that time.

Southern Vermont shot 46.7 percent (28-60) from field goal range while Dean finished with a 47.4 percent (27-57) clip from the floor. The Mountaineers hit 19 free throws to the Bulldogs' eight while snagging a 40-26 upper hand on the boards; SVC utilized that rebounding advantage to outscore the visitors 14-4 in second-chance points.

Dean's only lead of the day came after Croskey hit the opening basket of the game, but the Bulldogs remained close in the front-end of the first half to keep SVC from running away with it. With 10:33 left in the period, however, Southern Vermont began a 13-3 run which included five points from Depollar and another four from junior Aaron Murray (Camden, N.J.). Pierre then dropped triples on back-to-back Mountaineer possessions to make it a 35-18 difference before Dean scored five-straight points to go into the break down by 14.

After spurts were traded early into the second, Pierre hit back-to-back treys once again with his first coming when he made a stellar move between his legs, spotted up from straight away, and banged it off the back of the iron. Southern Vermont then appeared to be on the road to seizing all of the momentum and walking away with it when a missed fast-break layup was downed with authority on a put-back dunk by SVC freshman KJ Kinsey (Deerfield Beach, Fla.).

The Bulldogs weren't going to go down that easily, however, as they started to chip away at their deficit. DC took to a 10-3 run which included a Walls steal-and-slam and a downtown basket by Thurman. The Mountaineers answered with an 8-3 spurt, highlighted by Depollar's third 3-pointer of the day, to push the lead back to double digits. SVC then scored seven of the game's last nine points with Payne registering five of those to close it out.

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