BENNINGTON -- With the MAC packed, Thursday's game between Southern Vermont College and Becker had a heavyweight fight feel.
And as much as the Mountaineers tried, Becker finally had the knockout blow.
Becker escaped from the Mountaineer Athletic Center with a 78-72 win that left all the combatants worn out.
"Our guys hung in there," said Becker coach Brian Gorman. "We've been up and down this year, playing a younger lineup. But we're coming together now. This is a tough place to play, and a great crowd, we responded to the crowd."
For SVC, one of the team leaders, DeShawn Hamlet, didn't play because of team issues.
"The energy was good, it's hard to replace DeShawn, he's a big part of our offense," said SVC coach Dan Engelstad. "We tried to go on the fly and try different lineups, like four guards. It became a matchup problem and we were on our heels a little."
Trailing by seven at halftime, 38-31, the Mountaineers scored on the first two possessions of the second half to pull within 38-36, but Becker went on a run of its own, extending the lead to 11 after Chris Canady buried a three with 14 minutes left for a 52-41 lead.
Becker shot 11-for-22 from the three-point line, an even 50 percent. Donovin Ford-Hayes was the most profilic, going 6-for-8 from beyond the arc.
"That was part of the scout. He's a streaky shooter, but he got going tonight and he made us pay," Engelstad said. "He's a good player, averages 14 or 15 points a night and he had some confidence early on.
When Antoine White (team-high 15 points) got his fourth foul with 13 minutes left in the game, he came out, but Eddie Mack III took over, draining a three and then going coast-to-coast on a layup to pull the Mountaineers within 54-49 and forcing Becker coach Brian Gorman to call a timeout as the crowd roared.
"The crowd was tremendous, it's a nice home court advantage," Engelstad said. "We came out well early, defensively we were locked in, they focused on the scout and we were more attentive to what we were doing."
Out of the timeout, Becker used a 9-0 run, capped off by a three-point play by sophomore Scott Dulaire with 9:04 left, to take a 63-49 lead, but again the Mountaineers came back as Ervin Mack hit a floater, then a three in transition a moment later to make it 63-55. After two Tyler Roberson free throws, Brandon Casella banged home a three of his own to pull it to seven.
But that's as close as it would get as Ford-Hayes nailed two triples a minute apart to ice it.
"To be better shooters we have to do it in practice, and [Ford-Hayes and Roberson] have done it recently," Gorman said.
Three other players for the Hawks were in double figures -- Scott Dulaire and David Maturah each had 14, while Roberson added 13. Dulaire also had eight boards as he battled taller guys inside.
"Maturah's our center, he's a tough kid," Gorman said. "They work at it. Scott had a hell of a game, [SVC's] size is tough to handle."
With the loss, SVC drops to 6-4 in the conference, while Becker is now ahead at 6-3.
"There's a log jam for second, so that's a good win for them and we need to bounce back," Engelstad said.
Their next chance is Saturday on the road at Newbury.