Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
BENNINGTON, Vt. – The Elms College men's basketball squad fell short against host Southern Vermont, 86-69, in a New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) clash at the Mountaineer Athletic Center. The Blazers slide to 2-13 overall, and 2-5 in the NECC, while Southern Vermont improves to 4-2 in league play and 6-9 on the season.
The Mountaineers secured a 10-4 lead over the opening minutes of play behind five points from junior Claude Payne (South Plainfield, N.J.). After back-to-back jumpers from SVC sophomore Josh Borders (Miami, Fla.) pushed the lead to 17-10, the Blazers chipped away at the gap with a 9-4 run, capped by a bucket from Elms senior Conny Ihearahu (Largo, Md.) at the 11:23 mark to make it 21-19. A three-point play from Southern Vermont junior Mike Pierre (Melrose, N.Y.) gave the Mountaineers a 26-21 lead, but Elms used a 5-2 run to captured their first lead, 28-26, with 6:19 remaining in the half. Six straight free throws regained control for Southern Vermont, followed by a three-pointer from senior Nate Goldsmith (Capitol Heights, Md.) to push the lead to 37-32. The Blazers outscored the Mountaineers 9-5 down the stretch, featuring seven points from senior Symon Smith (Oklahoma City, Okla.) to trim the deficit to 42-41 heading into halftime.
The Blazers used an offensive rebound and put-back from freshman DeAngelo Cousar (Bowie, Md.) to place Elms within a possession, 45-43, but the Mountaineers began to pull away with a 14-5 run over the next five minutes to create a 59-48 cushion with 13:59 to play. A three-point from Southern Vermont senior Brandon Casella (Pittsfield, Mass.) capped a 16-7 run by the Mountaineers to increase their advantage to 75-55 with 8:09 on the clock. Another trey from Casella gave the Mountaineers their largest lead of the contest, 78-57, followed by buckets from senior Rashawn Taylor (Silver Spring, Md.) as Southern Vermont went on to the 86-69 victory.
The Blazers had three scorers in double figures, led by Smith with a team-high 20 points, five rebounds and three assists. Ihearahu netted 14 points with a team-high eight rebounds, while Cousar added 13 points and two rebounds. Freshman Spencer Douglas (Hollywood, Fla.) added nine points and four rebounds off the bench.
Pierre paced the Mountaineers attack with a game-high 18 points, shooting 6-of-10 from the floor and 5-of-5 from the foul line, with six rebounds. Borders recorded 16 points off the bench, connecting on three three-pointers, with two rebounds and two assists. Goldsmith registered a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds and a game-high six assists, while Taylor tallied 14 points, five rebounds and five assists.
The Blazers won the battle on the glass, 43-38, and outscored the Mountaineers bench, 20-15, during the contest. Elms converted 37.5% (27-of-72) from the floor, including 20% (5-of-25) from three-point range, and 62.5% (10-of-16) from the foul line. Southern Vermont shot 48.4% (30-of-62) from the field, 27.6% (8-of-29) from three-point, and 90% (18-of-20) from the free throw stripe.
The Blazers will be back on the court when they host Daniel Webster College in NECC action Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. Southern Vermont hosts Regis in conference play Saturday at 3:00 p.m.