Fourth-quarter surge propels Mitchell
Mitchell outscored SVC by eight in the final minutes en route to a 52-41 victory at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.
"It's tough when we're so light in our roster, we're not very deep with subs," said SVC coach Christen Gowan. "They play so hard I think that's why we get gassed by the fourth, we've poured so much of ourselves into the game. I'm really proud of the first 35 minutes, but the last five are tough, and we can get there."
Mitchell took a 30-28 lead into the fourth quarter, and after Maddy Main hit a jumper with 5:35 left, the Mountaineers trailed 35-32. But at that point, Mitchell went on a 10-0 run spearheaded by Ashleigh Beauford and Marissa Sweeney, who tied for the team lead in scoring on the afternoon with 11 points.
Beauford scored on back-to-back possessions to extend the lead to 41-32, Francesca Pinard added a basket of her own a moment late and Sweeney hit a pair of free throws to give the Mariners a 45-32 lead. Mitchell was 8-of-11 from the line in the fourth quarter.
"We just need to keep fighting and finish possessions," Gowan said. "I try to hammer in that we need to play the whole 30 seconds [on the] shot clock. It was really the offensive boards that got us in the last five minutes."
Sweeney got the free throw line six times in the fourth quarter, making all of them. Her accuracy was paramount as she ruled the boards, racking up 18 rebounds for a double-double.
Southern Vermont cut the lead as low as eight after a steal by Taylor Mallett and a basket by Maddy Main to make it 47-39, but Mitchell hit a handful of free throws to seal the game.
Main was the leading scorer overall with 18 points and 10 rebounds, recording her eighth double-double of the season.
SVC struggled mightily from beyond the arc, shooting 1-for-17. Main went 0-for-9 from deep, her most misses from the outside in a game this season.
SVC shot 23 percent from the field, compared to 30.5 percent for the Mariners.
"Maddy is a very unique player, her shot was off from the outside, but she has tired legs," Gowan said.
Main is third overall in all of Division III in minutes played and in the top 10 in minutes per game at more than 38 minutes per contest.
"She just wills the ball in, finds a way to get it done every night," Gowan said. "It's incredible how she crashes the boards, it's just the competitor in her. Hopefully we can feed off that."
Neither team could find a rhythm in the first quarter, as SVC didn't get their first basket until there was 2:33 left in the quarter. Before the end of the period, Main scored all seven of their points as SVC took a 7-4 lead to the second quarter.
Mitchell tied the game at 10-10 when Jordan Lohneiss (nine points) knocked down a three, then tied it again at 14-14 a few minutes later on a Lohneiss free throw.
Two free throws by Mallett (nine points) with 16 seconds left in the half gave SVC a 19-17 lead going into the break.
SVC started the third quarter quickly, taking a 6-point lead when Brenna Hudson (nine points) hit a shot with 5:30 left in the third. But the next seven were Mitchell's, putting the Mariners back on top at the end of the frame.
The Mountaineers drop to 3-13 overall and 2-5 in the NECC. The top six teams in the conference make the NECC tournament, and while SVC is seventh right now, they have beaten Lesley and Bay Path already this season.
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