BOSTON, Mass. — The game was never in doubt Saturday afternoon as Southern Vermont College went into Winsor Court and defeated Wheelock College 107-58 to capture the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) regular season championship for the second straight year.
A strong 26-3 Mountaineer run through the midpoint of the first half, highlighted by six baskets from beyond the arc, gave SVC a comfortable 57-22 lead at halftime. Southern Vermont continued to connect through the final 20 minutes, setting a season-high in points while breaking the 100 mark for the sixth time of the year.
SVC improves to 20-3 overall with its 12th straight win, staying perfect in NECC play (14-0) with the season sweep of Wheelock. The Mountaineers have two more regular season games to go, first hosting Elms College on Thursday night for a 7 p.m. tip-off.
Saturday's victory also secures the No. 1 seed for Southern Vermont in the upcoming NECC postseason, allowing SVC to host the semifinal and championship rounds of the playoff tournament for the second straight year.
The Mountaineers hit on 14 of their three-point attempts of the afternoon, setting a modern-day team record for the most made treys in a contest (since 2010-11). The visitors were led by senior DeShawn Hamlet (Hartford, Conn.) who tallied 24 points on the day, going 3-for-4 from long range for the second straight game; he was 9-for-11 overall from the floor, adding eight rebounds and four assists to his line. Junior Davante Jordan (Great Mills, Md.) followed with 13 points in 14 minutes of reserve time, swiping the ball four times for a game-high in the steals column; he went a perfect 3-for-3 from downtown on the day.
SVC senior Casey Hall (Albany, N.Y.) snagged a game and season-best 12 rebounds, scoring 12 points for his second double-double of the year while adding three steals and two assists to his line. Sophomore Daemond Carter (Forestville, Md.) had another 12 points, five rebounds and three assists, and junior Rayshawn Taylor (Silver Spring, Md.) added 10 points and a pair of boards off the bench.
Southern Vermont shot 54.1 percent (40-74) from the floor while holding Wheelock to a 29.7 percent (19-64) field goal clip. The Mountaineers took a 47-38 rebounding advantage and outscored the Wildcats by a 30-8 margin in points off turnovers. SVC dominated the paint, notching 46 points from the key to the Wildcats' 14.
Almost the first two minutes of the game went scoreless as both teams tried to find their groove, Wheelock finally getting on the board with a three-pointer. A pair of Wildcat free throws put the hosts up 5-2, but that's when Southern Vermont took control and never looked back. Hall started the surge with a dunk off a Hamlet dish, and Hamlet then hit his first trey to start a personal 7-0 run that put the Mountaineers on top 13-5.
Taylor entered the game and made a steal-and-score while drawing the foul, completing the old-fashioned three-point play for the first three of 12 unanswered SVC points; Taylor, Jordan and freshman Josh Borders (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) all knocked down baskets from the outside in that stretch as the Mountaineers went up 25-7. The hot shooting from deep continued through 10:00 mark as Hamlet, Carter, and senior William Bromirski (Cambridge, N.Y.) drilled three consecutive treys for the 35-10 upper hand. Hamlet added his third triple of the day before Wheelock scored seven unanswered to trim its deficit, but Jordan and Taylor connected on back-to-back threes to help Southern Vermont close out the half with a 15-3 run that sent the visitors into the lock room ahead 57-22.
The Mountaineers stayed on the gas after the break, a pair of Hall free throws putting them up 69-28 in the early going of the second half. Scoring was traded as SVC maintained its separation, Jordan hitting a three-ball at the 11:40 mark to make it an 80-39 advantage. Southern Vermont sophomore Nate Goldsmith (Capitol Heights, Md.) scored four straight points to put the Mountaineers into triple digits, and a final three-pointer by junior Ervin Cook (Bethesda, Md.) in the final minute gave his team its most points this season in the big league win.