BENNINGTON, Vt. – The Southern Vermont College men's basketball team suffered its first home loss of the year Wednesday night as Mitchell College claimed an 82-74 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) victory at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.
Mitchell never trailed and went up by 15 during the first half before bringing a 40-28 lead to the locker room. SVC pushed to make a comeback and eventually got within four late in the game, but the Mariners held off the hosts to snap their five-game losing streak at the MAC. Mitchell's last win in Bennington was a 93-80 victory on February 12, 2013.
Steffen Brunson had a stellar night with a game- and career-high 31 points to lead the Mariners, 19 of which came in the first half. He also tallied eight rebounds and six assists in the win. Domenico Santiago chalked up a double-double with 15 points and a game-best 11 boards to go with five assists. Hasani Williams also reached double figures with 12 points and he also grabbed six rebounds.
Santiago also reached another career milestone in the contest. His 11 rebounds gave him 1,057 for his career, tying the school record held by Joshua Ford '14.
SVC was led by Andre Hodo, who finished with 21 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals. Donnell Frayer Jr. tallied 17 points, four assists and three boards while Josh Borders added another 17 points along with five rebounds.
The Mariners shot 54 percent on field goal attempts while SVC went 27-for-64 (42 percent) from the floor. The visitors had a 37-33 edge in rebounds and outscored the Mountaineers 12-4 in fast-break points. Southern Vermont posted a 28-12 upper hand in points off turnovers, but Mitchell was able to edge SVC 36-32 in the paint while knocking down eight three-pointers to the Mountaineers' six.
Baskets went back-and-forth in the early going as both teams came out shooting well. The two sides traded spurts through most of the first half as Southern Vermont had an answer each time MC tried to pull away. Mitchell finally got some breathing room in the final five minutes with a 12-0 run which included eight Brunson points—six coming from downtown.
A Brunson layup gave the Mariners their biggest lead of the night (49-31) early into the second period, but SVC came clawing back. After Borders had only two points at the break, he started to heat up with 11:40 left to go and helped the Mountaineers chip away at their deficit. Down by 13, Southern Vermont went on a 9-2 run—Borders providing five points in that stretch—to make it just a 68-62 difference.
The SVC senior then hit a pair of late three-pointers to get his team within four in the final minute of action. That would be the closest the Mountaineers could get, however, as Mitchell went 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the waning seconds to register six unanswered points and become the only team to sweep Southern Vermont this year.
Mitchell (16-8 overall, 10-5 NECC) concludes its regular season on Saturday, Feburary 16 against Dean College at 2:30 p.m. Southern Vermont finishes the regular season at 16-8 overall and 10-6 in conference play.