Strong first half propels SVC over Fisher College

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BENNINGTON — Losing isn't something the Southern Vermont College men's basketball is all too used to.

Coming into last Saturday's contest against Lehman College, SVC had won its last 20 regular season games, with its last loss coming against Fitchburg State, back on January 7.

Saturday ended up putting a close to that impressive streak, as the Lightning handily topped the Mountaineers 96-71.

Wednesday night, SVC returned home to Mountaineer Athletic Center, looking to get back on track as they took on Fisher College.

The Mountaineers were able to do just that as they went on top the Falcons 78-64. The win pushes SVC's record to 7-1.

Mountaineer coach Dan Engelstad was happy with the effort, but knows there's another level his team can reach.

"We had a really tough game, where we didn't bring any energy or effort and I think that improved (tonight)," said Engelstad, who's in his fifth year as head coach. "I still think we're not nearly as disciplined as we need to be defensively. I'm a little frustrated from how we're not getting to that next level defensively, but overall, really good efforts from everybody. Any wins a good wins a good win in college basketball."

It took a little while for the Mountaineers to get going against the Falcons as most of the first half was back and forth, with eight different lead changes in the first 20 minutes. They were able to take control late in the half though and that propelled the home team to an 11-point lead at the break.

The second was similarly tightly contested and strong play by Fisher got the lead down to seven, but SVC was able to hold off the Falcons for the win.

The Mountaineers were paced on the offensive end by the usual suspect of guard Mike Pierre. The senior guard scored 27 in the contest, while adding eight rebounds. He was especially good from the free-throw line, where he put in nine points

Engelstad got on the star player in the second half, wanting him to provide strong defensive effort and he pointed to his high expectations as to why he did that.

"He's our best player and I need him to be the best two-way player," Engelstad said. "I need him to really sell out to playing good defense all the time. He's so gifted and so talented, so I want him to take the next step defensively."

SVC also had strong nights out of guard Josh Borders, guard Kyle Depollar and forward Andre Hodo, who had 14, 11 and 11 respectively.

The Mountaineers were particularly strong from the free-throw line throughout the night. SVC went 23-for-27 from the charity stripe, compared to the Falcons 8-for-19 mark.

"We've been a really good free-throw shooting team this year and especially at the end of games you have to close them out and make them," Engelstad said. "We've got guys that I fee are comfortable every time they step up to the line. Our bigs make free throws too, so there's no real out when it comes to shooting them."

Fisher did control the boards in the contest, as they outrebounded the Mountaineers 46-36 Wednesday night.

SVC will now be traveling to Miami Shores, Fla. for the 2017 HOOP MIA Holiday Slam. They'll be taking on Cortland State, Monday at Barry University in Miami. Tip off is set for 5 p.m.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aaucoin@benningtonbanner.com and at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.


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