Men’s Basketball Caps 79-76 Comeback Win Over Eastern Nazarene in NECC Opener

kajuan kinsey puts up a shot

BENNINGTON, Vt. – The first-ever men's basketball matchup between Southern Vermont College and Eastern Nazarene College was a good one with SVC coming back to top the Lions 79-76 Tuesday night in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) action at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.

In the first league game of the year for the hosts, Southern Vermont trailed 42-40 going into the break. ENC then led 64-56 with just over seven minutes to go, but the Lions couldn't hold off SVC for much longer. The Mountaineers stormed to a 13-0 run to pull ahead, and Southern Vermont hit enough of its late free throws to close out the victory.

SVC (5-2, 1-0 NECC) is back on the floor Saturday with a 1 p.m. Conference tilt at home against Elms College. ENC (2-5, 1-1 NECC) turns to non-league action for its next four games—the first being at home on Thursday in a 7 p.m. matchup with Curry College.

Mountaineer senior Andre Hodo (Silver Spring, Md.) led the way in both the points (20) and rebounds (12) columns to register his third double-double of the year; he also had a game-best five steals on the defensive end. Classmate Kyle Depollar (Rockville, Md.) followed with 18 points, and sophomore Donnell Frayer Jr. (Upper Marlboro, Md.) had 15 points in the win. Senior Josh Borders (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) also hit double digits for SVC as he scored 11 points on the night.

Four Lion starters reached double figures—being led by junior Josh Rice (Hanson, Mass.) who had 16 points to go with his four rebounds. Classmate Jacob Waldroop (Newland, N.C.) posted 12 points and three assists while fellow junior Garrett Crandell (Bristol, Tenn.) had 11 points and four boards. Sophomore David Lopez (Miami, Fla.) recorded 10 points and five rebounds in the effort.

Both teams shot well from the floor with ENC (52.1 percent) taking a slight edge over Southern Vermont (51.9 percent). The Lions also went 13-25 (52 percent) from downtown while SVC connected on 35 percent (7-20) of its deep attempts. However, the Mountaineers tallied a 28-22 advantage from the paint and used their 28-25 edge in rebounds to outscore Eastern Nazarene 9-4 in second-chance points.

Southern Vermont came storming out of the gate after Depollar drilled a triple off the tip; he would soon-after get a layup to go for the Mountaineers to start the game with a 12-2 lead and force an ENC timeout.

The Lions started to slowly chip away, however, as Rice heated up from the outside. He connected on four of his 3-point attempts between the 12:47 and 4:42 marks; his last of that stretch made it a 33-29 SVC advantage and sparked a 12-0 run which put the Lions on top by five. The two sides traded baskets through the rest of the half before Frayer Jr. hit one from beyond the arc with nine seconds to go for the Mountaineers to head into the locker room down by a pair.

There would be five lead changes in the second half as neither side could sustain the upper hand. ENC pushed it to a two-possession game, however, as junior  Noah Cheney (Bend, Ore.) came off the bench and hit a couple of treys midway through the stanza to put his team in front 56-52.

Six unanswered points from the Lions—three coming off Waldroop's hand—then gave the visitors their biggest lead of the night (8). The teams traded blows as ENC still held a 70-63 edge with 5:32 to go. An Eastern Nazarene timeout at that point, however, paid dividends for the Mountaineers as they came out of the stoppage and seized the momentum.

Hodo scored seven points during SVC's late surge while Frayer Jr. chalked up four. It was senior Aaron Murray (Camden, N.J.) who would cause the final lead change as he took a pass from the top of the arc and got a running floater through the lane to fall in and put Southern Vermont ahead 72-70. A Hodo free throw with 36 seconds left made it a five-point game before ENC was able to score on its next possession to get within three and keep its hopes alive.

After Borders went 2-2 from the charity stripe in the waning seconds, Lopez came up with a big-time 3-pointer at the other end. Frayer Jr. would only hit one of his ensuing free throws, but the Mountaineers fouled in transition to send Crandell to the line. The ENC junior made his first and then purposely missed the second with only three seconds left; Frayer Jr. was able to corral the rebound while getting fouled, however, and ventured back to the stripe. His first would miss the mark, but the second went in before the Lions' desperation half-court shot flew over the backboard for the Mountaineers to celebrate.