SVC edges Lions in NECC opener

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BENNINGTON — The Southern Vermont College men's basketball team needed every second to get it done, but SVC held off Eastern Nazarene College 79-76 in its New England Collegiate Conference opener Tuesday at Mountaineer Athletic Center.

The Mountaineers held a lead throughout most of the first half, but ENC made a late push to grab the advantage, taking a two-point lead into the half.

The second half was competitive with both teams trading baskets, but the Lions slowly but surely inched their lead forward. Their biggest lead came with under eight minutes to play in the second half when they led by eight.

With 5:35 to play in regulation, still facing a seven-point deficit on the scoreboard, SVC knew it was put up or shut up time and started to make a run. Fueled by locked-in play on both ends, the Mountaineers quickly erased the deficit. An Andre Hodo jumper with 2:49 to play, followed by a steal and an Aaron Murray score on the next possession gave SVC a lead it would not give up. Free throws down the stretch iced the game for the Mountaineers.

SVC took control early in Tuesday's contest, but ENC started to inch back with its success from long range. The Lions used the three-point shot to keep themselves in the game throughout the first half, knocking down nine 3's over the first 20 minutes of play.

The Mountaineers made a solid adjustment at halftime cutting the Lions' made 3's to four in the second half, but SVC still shot over 50 percent for the game.

A major spark for SVC to get back in the game was the play of Hodo, who was a force on both ends of the floor all day long. The senior forward paced the Mountaineers with 20 points and 12 rebounds to lock up the double-double. His effort on the defensive end was just as impressive as he picked up five steals and a block as well. The team had eight steals for the game.

Three other SVC players reached double figures as senior Kyle Depollar notched 18 points, while Donnell Frayer Jr. and Josh Borders added 15 and 11 points respectively.

ENC used a balanced attack to stay in Tuesday's contest. Four different players had more than 10 points, led by Joey Rice, who had 16.

Rice, Jacob Waldroop and Noah Cheney combined for 11 of the Lions' 13 made 3's.

The win pushes SVC to 5-2 on the season and 1-0 in NECC play. The Mountaineers are back in action Saturday against Elms at home.

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


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