LEWISTON, Maine — In Southern Vermont College's final game of 2015, the visiting Mountaineers edged Bates College 67-63 in non-conference men's basketball action at BC's Alumni Gymnasium to extend their winning streak to seven games.
The win is the first for SVC against the Bobcats in three all-time meetings as Southern Vermont improves its season record to 8-2.
SVC took a tight 30-29 lead into halftime before needing to erase a four-point deficit midway through the second period. Southern Vermont connected when needed late in the contest, hitting enough free throws to squeak ahead and then hold off Bates for the non-league victory.
The Mountaineers don't play again until after New Year's, resuming action on January 4 with their second straight game against a New England Small College Athletic Conference team as they visit Middlebury College for a 6 p.m. inner-state showdown.
Southern Vermont junior Nate Goldsmith (Capitol Heights, Md.) had a strong showing in 23 minutes of reserve time, dropping a team-best 17 points on 6-12 shooting from the floor while grabbing a team-high eight rebounds. Sophomore Daemond Carter (Forestville, Md.) notched 12 points, six rebounds and two steals with his fourth start of the year, and freshman Josh Borders (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) added 10 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Senior Jeff James (Bowie, Md.) and junior Rayshawn Taylor (Silver Spring, Md.) chipped in with eight and seven points, respectively, off the SVC bench while junior Davante Jordan (Great Mills, Md.) registered five points in reserve time.
There were a total of 17 lead changes and 15 ties throughout the evening as the two teams fought through the 40 minutes. SVC entered the night as the 10th-best team in NCAA Division III in terms of defensive field goal percentage, the Mountaineers' opponents averaging a 37.0 percent clip on the year; Southern Vermont continued that trend, holding Bates to just a 30.4 shooting percentage (21-69) from the floor. SVC edged the Bobcats 27-20 in points off turnovers while its bench totaled 37 points to BC's 14. The Mountaineers went 26-62 (41.9 percent) from field goal range, adding an 8-17 (47.11 percent) performance on three-pointers.
Bates went up by two points four times in the opening five minutes of action, but a different Mountaineer responded on each of those to even the score. Finally, after the Bobcats took their fifth two-point advantage, SVC grabbed its first lead when Taylor knocked down a three-pointer at the 13:29 mark to put the visitors up by one. He followed on Southern Vermont's next possession with a put-back layup, only to see Bates send home a trey of its own to once again even the score (13-13).
The two sides battled down the backend of the opening half, the lead being traded another eight times before the intermission. Taylor got a layup to go with just over six minutes left, but Bates answered with unassisted basket on the ensuing trip down the floor before a second layup about a minute later put the Bobcats up by two. Carter responded with a bucket from downtown on a dish from Taylor to send the upper hand back to SVC, but two BC scores from down low put the hosts up 25-22 with 4:11 on the clock.
Once more, Southern Vermont responded as Borders dropped in a layup before a Bates turnover allowed Jordan to knock down a three for the two-point upper hand. Four Bobcat free throws gave the hosts a 29-27 edge with 2:14 to play, but SVC closed out the half with the final three points to go in front by one heading into the locker room.
Bates came out of the break and took to a 9-2 run to start the second half, going up by six for the largest lead from either side all night. The Mountaineers erased their deficit shortly thereafter, Carter and Borders hitting back-to-back three-pointers to tie things at 40-40. BC took another slim advantage with a jumper, only to have Carter score five straight points on his own to put SVC on top 45-42 with 15:10 to go in the game.
The next three minutes of play were scoreless as the two sides totaled nine missed shots and three combined turnovers while the Mountaineers clung to their marginal lead. Goldsmith scored five unanswered point on his own with three coming on a trey at the 11:44 mark to put Southern Vermont in front 50-44. Bates pulled back ahead with a 10-2 spurt over the next four minutes, a layup making it 56-53 in favor of the Bobcats. After another two-minutes of scoreless action, James completed an old-fashioned three-point play to tie the contest heading down the final stretch.
Free throws were exchanged as four straight by Bates put the hosts on top 61-58, but the lead didn't last long as Goldsmith knocked down a deep basket on the next possession to even the score with 2:42 to go. He then came through with a successful and-one play, giving Southern Vermont a 64-61 advantage with 2:00 on the board. Two Bobcat baskets from the charity stripe cut it to a one-point BC deficit, but Goldsmith was able to grab the offensive board on his own missed three before senior Casey Hall (Albany, N.Y.) sent home a layup to push the Mountaineers back in front by three.
Bates sent up a triple in the hopes to tie it with 55 ticks left, one that would not go through as Borders cleaned up the loose ball. Both sides missed layups in the waning seconds before Goldsmith was fouled with just 17 remaining in regulation. His first free throw was errant, allowing the Bobcats to use a timeout to plan their strategy. Goldsmith went back to the line out of the stoppage and knocked down his second off two freebies for a four-point Mountaineer lead, and a desperation three by Bates on the other end was put up to no avail as Goldsmith grabbed the rebound for SVC to run out the clock and celebrate the big win.