SVC loses heartbreaker in NCAA tourney

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MEDFORD, MASS. >> One and done are the Southern Vermont College men's basketball team.

The Mountaineers fought to the bitter end, coming back from nine down with ten minutes to play, but fell to Tufts 78-76, in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament.

"We kept battling and battling all night long, but unfortunately the score didn't go our way tonight," said SVC coach Dan Engelstad. "We came back from a tough deficit to put ourselves in position to win the game and that's all from the guys not backing down from adversity and continuing to stick with it."

Down by seven going into the second half, the Mountaineers came out on fire like they did to start the game, getting two huge three-point shots by Casey Hall to make it a one point game.

Once again though Tufts had an answer for the Mountaineers run, going on a 10-2 run to take a 59-50 lead.

SVC though wouldn't go away, continuing to chip at the deficit to make it a three point game after freshman Josh Borders hit a three-pointer from the right corner with seven minutes to go.

"We started to settle down and play SVC basketball," said senior DeShawn Hamlet. "We're able to get stops and get ourselves back in the game.

The Mountaineers made it a one point game again with Hamlet lay up, but Tufts answered with a couple baskets to make it a four point game.

SVC finally then made a run to tie the game thanks to a huge three-pointer by senior Jeff James.

After Tufts made a shot to take the lead once again, SVC got another prayer from three-point land to go in thanks to senior William Bromirski.

Now with the lead SVC had the momentum on their side now with a minute to go, but the Jumbos again had a answer form the SVC rally with a three-pointer to give themselves a two point again.

Down three with 24 seconds remaining, SVC missed an opportunity to make it a one point game again, when James missed a free throw attempt on a 1-1.

Lucky for SVC though, Tufts missed two free throws after the intentional foul.

SVC was then able to make it a one point game again when Borders made two free throws at the line.

After Tufts went one of two at the strike, SVC had one last chance to win the game, but Hamlet's half-court shot missed wide left and the Mountaineers season ended with a first round elimination.

The issue for Mountaineers all night came at the hands of Tufts center Tom Palleschi, who played just as he was advertised to.

Second in the nations in block shots, Palleschi continued his trend of blocking opposing teams shots in the paint all night, having four in the first half, keeping the Mountaineers away from getting points in the paint.

He finished with a game-high 8 blocks on the night, going along with his 17 points in the paint.

The Mountaineers came out ready to play, going on a 6-0 run to start the contest.

Tufts though came right back at SVC with a run of their own to go up 7-6.

The two team traded baskets the next 10 minutes will SVC continuing to stay with Jumbos, only trailing by 23-22 with seven minutes to go till halftime.

That's where the Mountaineers hit a rough patch as Tufts went on a 12-4 run to take a nine point lead and help them hold a 42-35 lead the half.

"Their a very good basketball team, that can hurt you in many different ways," Engelstad said. "They can score in the paint with their inside presence in Palleschi and their shooters like they have all year long, shot well from the outside, so it's tough to slow them down in stretches during the game."

James led the Moutaineers with a team-high 13 points on the night.

Hamlet and junior Nate Goldsmith each had 12 points in the loss for SVC as well.

Stephen Haladyna had a game-high 24 points from Tufts in the win, which included knocking down four shots from behind the arch in the contest.

The Jumbos hit eight three-pointers in the game.

With the loss SVC finishes the season at 24-4 and most importantly with their heads held high said Engelstd.

"I could not be more prouder for this group of individuals," Engelstad said. "These seniors on our team did great job leading us all year and I am going to miss coaching them. This team had one of the best years in league history and showed everybody in the gym tonight that SVC has a good basketball program. I couldn't ask for more from these guys."


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