Emotional let-down: After stunning upset, SVC falls in tournament finale
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Still coming down off of the emotional high after a shocking one-point win over No. 3 ranked Williams College, the Southern Vermont College men's basketball team fell to Rutgers-Newark 65-55 on Saturday afternoon in the Williams Tip-Off Classic, hosted at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
"Definitely upset with how it went today," coach Dan Engelstad said. "We knew we were coming off of an emotional high from last night. We don't want to use it as an excuse, but we didn't play sharp."
Over a majority of the first half, the teams exchanged baskets and the lead.
SVC freshman Jordan Alston opened the game with a three off of a pass from Davante Jordan, but the Scarlet Raiders would go up 5-3 off of a free throw from John Snow, who scored a game-high 26 points.
Southern Vermont took a 23-21 lead on a Rayshawn Taylor (16 points) jumper. The lead, though, would be the final one Mountaineers had in the game.
Doze Ikwuegby tied the game up on a layup to make it 23-23, starting an 11-2 run to end the half and give the Scarlet Raiders a 34-24 lead at the break.
"[Rutgers-Newark] went on a nice run to end the half," Engelstad said. "We knew that they could slash and get to the basket, and our ball-screen defense was really poor tonight. They went on that run, and instead of pushing back we folded."
Southern Vermont went 9-for-29 in the first half and the committed 14 fouls. Rutgers-Newark took advantage, going 12-for-17 from the line in the first 20 minutes.
"In back-to-back games we put ourselves in that situation," Engelstad said of the foul trouble. "We could do without the fouls, but we hope it won't be consistent."
In the second half, SVC tried to get itself back in the game with full court pressure, but foul trouble and a sluggish offense kept the Mountaineers from getting the lead back.
Halfway through the second, Southern Vermont would cut the deficit to four when DeShawn Hamlet put back his own miss then Taylor hit a free throw to make it 47-43, but Chris Foreman (5 points) hit a three off of a pass from Elvis Hodzic to make it 50-43, and the Scarlet Raiders would go up 13 on a drive from Forman to make it 57-44.
"Our defense prides itself on turnovers, but we didn't get that many," Engelstad said. "And we also missed assignments on defense tonight."
During the second half, Antoine White, Dolapo Olugbile, and Hamlet all picked up four fouls, and Izzy Melton fouled out.
"It's not just us, all across the country there has been an emphasis on the rule changes," Engelstad said. "It is something we are going to have to figure out."
Offensively, the Mountaineers shot just 34 percent from the field, going 21-61.
"We were able to get into their zone, but we couldn't make plays." Said Engelstad. "We couldn't make a shot, and we missed a couple of easy layups."
The closest Southern Vermont would get the rest of the way was eight points, with Taylor driving for a layup off of a Jordan pass.
McDonald had a game-high 10 rebounds in the game, including five on the offensive glass. Blair Manners had 9 rebounds for SVC and Hamlet pulled down 6 rebounds, including 5 on the offensive glass. Rutgers-Newark was 22-for-37 from the line, missing as many free throws as SVC took (8-for-15).
While the ending wasn't what Engelstad wanted after yesterday's upset win over Williams, the coach said that the opening pair of games gave him a better understanding of his squad.
"It didn't end as we hoped, but we figured out we had talented players," Engelstad said. "We also realized we can't just show up and win, we have to play hard every game. We had lots of positives, but we will learn from the negatives."
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.