BENNINGTON, Vt. – Southern Vermont College senior Abbi Molner (Wilmington, Vt.) grabbed her own rebound with just seconds left in regulation Tuesday night, retreated back behind the arc and sank a game-tying three as the buzzer sounded to make way for the hosts to take a triumphant 68-57 victory over Bay Path University at the Mountaineer Athletic Center in both teams' first New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) game of the year.
SVC trailed by four with 3:33 left in regulation and then by three with only 15 seconds on the clock, but Molner's second attempt at the tying triple found the bottom of the basket to help the Mountaineers start their 2016-17 home schedule with their first win of the season.
Southern Vermont was down 36-28 at the halftime break before the hosts held the Wildcats to just three points in the third quarter. Each team notched 14 in the final stanza, and SVC then limited BPU to four points in the extra session for the victory.
The Mountaineers (1-3, 1-0 NECC) continue their home stand on Thursday when they welcome Becker College to the MAC for a 7 p.m. league tip-off. Bay Path (0-4, 0-1 NECC) is also at home on Thursday for another Conference contest, welcoming Mitchell College for an 8 p.m. start.
SVC junior Chloe Longe (Enosburg Falls, Vt.) had a huge night on the glass, pulling down a career-best 16 rebounds to go with her team-leading 17 points for her second collegiate double-double. Senior Sarah McDonald (Cohoes, N.Y.) had 10 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks off the Mountaineer bench, and Molner finished with 12 points and nine boards.
Mountaineer freshman Taylor Mallett (Berwick, Maine) added another 11 points and four boards in the first hoops game of her collegiate tenure while senior captain Amber Dow (Panton, Vt.) had eight points and a career-high seven assists. Additionally, freshman Sarah Poirier (Ferrisburgh, Vt.) notched five points, four steals, three rebounds and three assists.
Bay Path senior Brenna Roy (Stafford Springs, Conn.) dropped a game-high 23 points in the effort while adding six rebounds, three assists and three steals to her line. Classmate Aaliyah Gordon (Springfield, Mass.) followed with eight points, a team-best 10 boards, and three assists, and fellow senior Briana Kujawski (Webster, Mass.) had another eight points and three boards in 16 minutes of reserve time. Senior Dallas Jackson (Springfield, Mass.) registered seven points, eight rebounds, and four steals in the effort.
Southern Vermont connected on 24-of-68 (35.3 percent) of its attempts from the floor while the Wildcats hit on 26.2 percent (22-84) of its shots from field goal range. BPU's perimeter game saw the visitors hit eight three-pointers to SVC's two, but the Mountaineers were able to rack up a 40-22 advantage from the paint. Southern Vermont utilized Bay Path's giveaways for a 17-8 upper hand in points off turnovers while using fast-paced transition for a 10-0 edge in fast-break points.
The charity stripe was no friend to either team throughout the night while seeing the Mountaineers garnering a noticeable difference despite attempts. The Wildcats went just 5-for-14 (35.7 percent) from the line as SVC finished with a 52.9 percent (18-34) on its freebies. The hosts were afforded dead-ball shots more often as Bay Path was called for 28 fouls to Southern Vermont's 18.
Two early fouls on Jackson forced the Bay Path senior to the bench with 7:39 left to go in the first quarter, but the Wildcats continued to run down the shot clock with a wealth of perimeter passes on each possession. Roy dropped a trey with 3:57 to go in the frame, only to see layups by Molner and sophomore captain Kayla Emmi (Syracuse, N.Y.) cut the SVC deficit to 12-10. Those would be the last buckets in the quarter for the hosts, however, as a Roy three-pointer in the final minute sent the game to the second with Bay Path on top 17-10.
The Wildcats went on a 10-2 run to start the next stanza, Roy dropping back-to-back baskets from downtown to cap that stretch and give her team a 15-point upper hand. After a Kujawski jumper gave BPU what would be the visitors' biggest lead of the night (31-15), Southern Vermont started to chip away to get back in it. Poirier knocked down a trey with 3:22 left on the clock, and Longe then converted an old-fashioned three-point play in the final minute. McDonald got a layup to go with just a few ticks left, sending the game to halftime with SVC down 36-28.
The Mountaineers came out of the locker room and took command of the game, holding Bay Path to just one field goal and a solo free throw in the next 10 minutes of action. Longe made a beautiful spin move while cutting down the lane for the layup, and freshman Kelly Dobbert (Stamford, Vt.) then tallied four-straight points off the SVC bench to give the hosts a 37-36 upper hand-- their first since being up 2-0 off the opening tip. Scoring was scarce through the remainder of the quarter, Bay Path's three coming in succession before a McDonald layup preceded the horn and sent the game to the fourth tied 39-39.
A Kujawski lay-in put the Wildcats up by three early into the final period of regulation, but a BPU technical foul allowed Dow to go to the line for an additional two free throws; she would go four-for-four from the stripe, giving SVC the 44-43 edge with 7:00 left to go. The next two Bay Path baskets came from behind the arc to put the visitors up by four, but Mallett came through with a huge layup before getting fouled while Southern Vermont was in the bonus. She connected on just the front-end, however, sending the game into the final two minutes with the hosts down 51-50.
Tension grew as neither team could connect down the stretch-- including six combined missed free throws from the two sides. Bay Path used a timeout with 26 seconds left and the shot clock turned off, and the Mountaineers decided not to foul once play resumed. Instead of trying to run the clock out, Gordon ran to the top of the paint and dropped a jumper to give BPU a three-point edge.
Void of timeouts, SVC was forced to run the floor and try to tie the game on the fly with just 15 seconds left. Molner grabbed a pass on the right edge of the arc and put it up, but the ball caromed off the rim and right back towards her; she was able to come up with the rebound, move back behind the line and launch a desperation attempt, getting it to fall as the buzzer sounded with the ball in the air for Southern Vermont to celebrate the tying bucket.
Much like the third quarter, the overtime session was all-SVC as the Mountaineers carried their momentum into the extra period. Southern Vermont scored the first 11 points of the overtime-- Mallett getting five of those while Longe added another four as SVC pulled away for a comfortable cushion. The hosts forced three turnovers and four missed Bay Path shots before the Wildcats got their first point of the frame with 2:21 left. The Mountaineers were then able to hold off the visitors through the final minutes to celebrate their first win of the year.
– #LetsGoSVC –