BENNINGTON -- The Southern Vermont College men's basketball team was making a run to try and take the lead in Tuesday night's New England Collegiate Conference quarterfinal matchup..
Tying the game up with a layup from Antoine White, the game looked like it was just getting started with just under nine minutes left. But for the Regis Pride, White's layup sparked a run that put the game out of reach and decided the contest as the Pride won 80 to 72 at the Mountaineer Athletic Center .
"It was tough to see the season end like that," said SVC coach Dan Engelstad. "Our guys fought, there was no doubt we competed tonight. We got back into the game and made some plays, but then we couldn't get the big stops."
After White's layup tied the game, Regis called a timeout to rally the troops and answered with a 7-0 run to go up 57-50 on a bucket by Ethan Peana (12 points) and would stretch the lead to as much as 13 on a pair of free throws from Ryan Chambers (game-high 23 points) before riding out the victory.
"Southern Vermont is very explosive, they can reel off 5, 8, 10 points just like that," said Regis coach Nathan Hager. "You could feel the momentum shifting. I thought we needed to call a timeout to settle the guys down. In the timeout, I said to keep doing what we were doing, be patient, and continue to do the hard things."
Southern Vermont started the first half on the right foot, racing out to an early 4-0 lead on a layup by Antoine White (team-high 18 points) and the team would go up10-6 when freshman Rayshawn Taylor (10 points) drove to the rim after hauling down an offensive rebounds.
Regis, though, would makes it charge after that.
Osanto Marc Jr. would tie things up at 10-10 and a corner three by Ryan Chambers put Regis up 15-12. SVC would tie things up at 18-18 when White found Jermaine Campbell (7 points) for a 3-pointer, but Chris Keaton answered for Regis with a triple of his own on the next play. SVC would tie the contest twice more in the first half before Regis went on a 7-0 run to go up 31-24 on a pair of free throws from Chris Leak (5 points).
SVC had a response before the half, however, and closed out the quarter 8-4 to cut the deficit to 35-32 going into the break when Izzy Melton (7 points) scored on an offensive put back.
"I felt good at halftime," Engelstad said. "We did some things that were frustrating in the first half, but we got a couple offensive rebounds to close out the half and Izzy got the bucket to finish it out. I thought we had some momentum going into the half, and we were able to make a push. We just got miscommunicated and they made some big shots. I thought that was the difference in the game."
At the start of the second half, Chris Keaton (15 points) would stroke a triple for Regis, but SVC answered with a 6-0 run to tie things at 38-38 when Campbell found Taylor for a trey.
Regis, as it would do all game, had an answer right away as Chambers drilled a triple of his own to take the lead back and two more buckets would put Regis up 45-38.
Yet Regis had to weather one more storm before it got into the clear.
White would hit a triple and a shot in the lane to cut the deficit to 47-43. Regis would push the lead to 50-43 on a free throw from Chris Leak, Jr. but a triple from Campbell, after he nearly turned the ball over, and another layup from White knotted things up at 50-50.
That was when Regis made its final run, and down the stretch the team hit 17 free throws to shore things up.
Regis finished shooting 23-for-29 from the line, while SVC shot a torrid 11-for-28 from the charity stripe.
"We have struggled all year from the free throw line," Engelstad said. "And tonight it was no different, except it was even worse. It's tough when you get the possession you want and get fouled and you come away with nothing. That is what championship teams do, they make their free throws."
Southern Vermont, a normally strong team on the glass, was also out-rebounded by the Pride 53-40. Regis also pulled down 20 offensive rebounds in the win.
White finished with four rebounds and six assists to go along with his team-high point total. Melton led SVC with eight rebounds off the bench, while Ahmad Charles led all players with 10 boards in the win for Regis.
SVC ends the year with a 16-10 record. Regis advances to the New England Collegiate Conference semifinals and will play against top-seed Elms College.