LEICESTER, Mass. – Southern Vermont College head men's basketball coach Dan Engelstad became the first coach in school history to amass 100 career victories Thursday night as the visiting Mountaineers defeated Becker College 81-59 in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) action at Leicester Gymnasium.
SVC stormed to a comfortable 42-24 lead by halftime before securing the win through the final 20 minutes.
After splitting the season series with Becker, the Mountaineers have now won seven-straight games and hold a 10-1 record against the NECC (18-4 overall). Southern Vermont is back on the floor Saturday with a 1 p.m. home game against Mitchell College.
Fittingly, Engelstad hit the milestone against Becker's Brian Gorman who is the only other men's coach in league history to register 100 victories as a member of the Conference; Mitchell head coach Todd Peretz reached the career mark in 2006 prior to the formation of the NECC. Engelstad achieved the feat in nine fewer games than Gorman with Thursday night being the SVC coach's 132nd contest at the helm of the Mountaineers.
66 of Engelstad's victories have come in regular season NECC action as he is currently holding a winning percentage of .880 (66-9) against the league before the playoffs and .758 (100-32) overall. Engelstad previously became the all-time winningest coach in program history with his 62nd victory coming on February 18, 2016.
Engelstad commented on his way home, "I'm proud of this accomplishment for the reason that I'm completely humbled by the players, and coaches, who have helped us achieve the success that we have had over the years."
Five Mountaineers scored in double figures Thursday night to help their coach make history. Three tied the game-high of 12 points including junior Andre Hodo (Rockville, Md.) who added a game-best 12 rebounds for his third double-double of the year; he also posted three assists and three steals in the win.
SVC senior Claude Payne (South Plainfield, N.J.) had another 12 points in addition to his four boards, and freshman KJ Kinsey (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) chipped in with 12 point of his own—all of those coming in nine minutes of second-half reserve time. Senior Mike Pierre (Melrose, N.Y.) registered 11 points, nine rebounds, four steals, and three assists while junior Kyle Depollar (Rockville, Md.) tallied 11 more points off the bench.
Southern Vermont connected on 40.6 percent (28-69) of its field goal attempts while Becker was only successful on 35.1 percent (20-57) of its takes from the floor. SVC drilled nine 3-pointers to the Hawks' three and used its 47-39 advantage in rebounds to outscore the hosts 20-12 in second-chance points.
Scoring was scarce in the early going with neither side's offense able to find a groove; a pair of Becker free throws made it just 16-15 in favor of the Hawks with 10:32 to go in the first half. That would be the hosts' final lead of the night, however, as the Mountaineers turned it on and closed out the period in command. Holding a 29-24 edge with 3:31 on the clock, Southern Vermont finished the stanza on a 16-2 run which included a hot hand from senior Daemond Carter (Forestville, Md.) who connected from beyond the arc on three consecutive SVC trips down the floor.
A 13-2 Mountaineer run in the second half, capped by a Kinsey triple, gave the visitors their largest lead of the night at 57-31 with 13:06 left to play. Baskets went back-and-forth before Becker scored 10 unanswered to get within 16, but SVC's offense continued to be too much and prevented the Hawks from getting any closer. Kinsey finished the frame on 5-9 shooting from the floor while Hodo notched eight points to help keep his team in front. Southern Vermont went 12-14 from the charity stripe through the final 20 minutes, as well.
– #LetsGoSVC –