BENNINGTON — It wasn't pretty, but the Southern Vermont College men's basketball improved their winning streak to 11 straight games with their 64-51 victory over Becker on Thursday night.
After a dreadful shooting performance in a low-scoring first half, the Mountaineers shot 52 percent from the field in the second half to win their 19th game of the season.
In the first, the SVC offense was out of sync, to say the least.
The Mountaineers turned the ball over nine times and shot 28 percent from the field.
"It was one of the worst offensive halves that I have ever watched us play," said SVC coach Dan Engelstad. "We weren't sharp. We turned the ball over a lot and our passes were sloppy. Lucky for us, we played well on defense to keep ourselves in the game after our offense got off to a slow start."
SVC played well on the defensive end and with the scoring of senior DeShawn Hamlet, the Mountaineers were able to garner a 23-22 lead with two minutes to go in the first half.
"Coach told me I needed to set the tone both offensively and defensively in the paint," Hamlet said, who scored seven points in the first half. "I was able to get a lot of rebounds on defense and then get some shots to go in on offense."
SVC couldn't keep their lead going into halftime as Becker went into the half up 26-25 after Samuel Durodola scored four of his eight first half points in the last minute leading towards halftime.
Durodola then continued his hot streak to start the second half, helping Becker get out to a 38-30 lead over SVC.
The sophomore had a game-high 26 points in the contest.
"Sam is a great player and he did a number on us inside," Engelstad said. "Once we called a timeout after getting down eight, we worked our defense to push him out to the perimeter and that help slow him down a bit in the finals minutes of the game."
Out of the timeout, the Mountaineers started their run towards a comeback victory, going on a 6-0 run to cut their deficit to two.
Then down just one with 10 minutes to go, Rayshawn Taylor drove the lane to knock down the tough jump shot to give SVC their first lead since the first half.
"At halftime me and my teammate Nate [Goldsmith] talked about bringing energy to the team when we came into the game and that's what I just tried to do out their," Taylor said. "I just kept staying aggressive with driving the lane and taking the shots when I had them."
Becker though came right back after losing their once eight point lead and grab a three-point lead over SVC, before Will Bromirski hit a three-pointer for the Mountaineers to tie things up at 44-44.
Then the three-pointers that were not falling for SVC in the first half, began to fall in the second as Nate Goldsmith knocked down a three-pointer to give the Mountaineers the lead back.
After Taylor hit two free throws at the line to give a 51-48, Goldsmith and Bromirski hit back to back three pointers and all of a sudden the Mountaineers were up 57-48 with three minutes left to play in the game.
"We got some big shots from a couple guys in key moments of the game, that really us pull way," Engelstad said. "We have the luxury that we have a lot of depth on this team and that guys up and down our line up can make key shots for us and that was seen tonight in this win."
Up 62-51 with less then a minute to play, Taylor sealed the win for the Mountaineers and put the finishing touches on his great performance as well, banking home a layup to give a team-high 14 points on the night.
"This was a great team win and I am happy I was able to contribute to it," Taylor said. "Everybody on this team did their part to help us come back and win it."
Hamelt finished right behind Taylor with 13 points on the night and had a team-high 12 rebounds to give a double-double in the game.
With the win, SVC improves to 19-3 on the season and are now 13-0 in conference play this season.
The win also made it 31 straight victories against New England Collegiate Conference opponents for the Mountaineers as well.