RAISING THE FLAGG: SVC's Flagg sets scoring mark on career night
BENNINGTON — Southern Vermont College senior women's basketball player Amber Flagg wanted to get the scoring record out of the way as fast as possible.
She did that, hitting the mark with 1:27 left in the first quarter of the Mountaineers' 89-84 overtime win against New England College on Tuesday at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.
What she didn't realize was just how many points she'd end up scoring on the night.
Flagg, who needed 12 points to break Joa Clairicus' record of 1,492 career points ended with a career-high 40.
"She's a special player, it's been amazing watching her for her four years here," said SVC coach Mike Quinn.
Flagg scored half the points she needed for the record on two 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions.
"I thought, I'm hot tonight," Flagg said. "It gave me more confidence to keep shooting and just relax."
Later she hit a bucket in the lane to make it 17-8 and 1,489 overall. Two free throws made it 1,491 and on the next play, she stole the ball and transitioned for a basket and the foul, securing the mark.
"I wanted to do it gracefully, in the flow of the game," Flagg said, holding onto the game ball. "I didn't want to drag it out, didn't want to be selfish and let the game come to me. I didn't know how to react."
After the hugs from Flagg's teammates and her mom, who came to Bennington from Windsor, Conn. for the game, SVC kept a safe distance from NEC on the scoreboard, pulling out to a lead of 40-30 after Turquoia Johnson hit a shot with 3:06 left in the half.
Maranda Parker hit a three banked off the backboard in the final seconds of the half to make it 48-43 at the break.
Johnson had 10 points and 15 rebounds for a double-double.
Kala MacKenzie was a force in the middle to start the second half, scoring six of the first seven points to push the lead back to 10. She had 20 points and 14 rebounds on the night.
Starting the fourth quarter, MacKenzie hit a shot to make it 68-61, but NEC made it 68-66 after a pair of free throws from LaQuil McKnight, who had 20 points off the bench for the Pilgrims.
With 2:35 left, McKnight drilled a three to give NEC its first lead at 71-70, but two Flagg free throws gave SVC the lead back. MacKenzie make one of the plays of the game with 25 seconds left, grabbing an offensive rebound and hitting a layup for a three-point lead. But with 10 seconds left, Marjani Lillard hit her only basket of the night, a three from the top of the key to tie it at 74.
Flagg had the ball in her hands for the final seconds, but couldn't connect, and the teams headed to overtime.
"We said, relax, don't be frantic about everything and things will fall into place," Flagg said.
In overtime, McKnight and Utshana Durham hit back-to-back for a 78-74 NEC lead, but Flagg drained a three with 2:48 left. Tied at 80, Flagg went to the line on four straight possessions and hit all eight free throws to ice it on her career night.
"I've been struggling with my free throws, positive thoughts," Flagg said. "I had a smile on my face a couple times, you have to know it's going in."
In the locker room, Flagg learned that she had set a career-high as well.
"I was in shock, I couldn't believe I had got 40. I was so focused on winning, we wanted to end the year on a win and come back from break at 6-2," Flagg said. "This shows what hard work can do."
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