SVC tops Pine Manor, stays undefeated

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BENNINGTON — A strong first half effort was the difference in the Southern Vermont College men's basketball team's 75-59 win over Pine Manor Saturday afternoon at Mountaineer Athletic Center.

The Mountaineers improve to 5-0 on the year, its first season-starting win streak of at least five games in team history.

SVC came out of the gate strong holding as much as a 22-point lead in the first half. The Mountaineers offense attacked well in the first half, but it was their defense that suffocated the Gators on offense.

Pine Manor shot just 25.7 percent from the field in the first half and missed all seven three-point shots they took.

SVC coach Dan Engelstad was impressed with his team's ability to slow the Gators' attack.

"We were down on the boards in the first half, so we were really defending," Engelstad said. "I liked how we were locked in defensively to start the game. That led to us being able to get out and make some plays in transition and I thought we executed well."

The second half proved to be a tougher task for the Mountaineers as Pine Manor, a team known for its defense, locked in much better after halftime. The Gators ended up outscoring SVC in the second half and a lot of it had to do with gritty defensive play.

"We just knew that they weren't out of it," said Engelstad about his thoughts at halftime. "They were eighth in the country coming into the game in steals, so a team that does that can spurt you fast. I was really disappointed in a five-minute stretch how careless we were with the basketball and we didn't do that in the first half. They got easy layups and turnovers that hurt us."

The Mountaineers were paced on the offensive end by guard Mike Pierre. Pierre had a team-high 17 points, eight of which came from the foul line. Guard Josh Borders had a strong effort as well with 12 points. On top of those two, four other players scored eight or more points for SVC.

Engelstad was happy with the effort Pierre showed Saturday afternoon, but knows there is a another level he can reach.

"Mike's a warrior. He works really hard," Engelstad said. "When we need a bucket or a play, Mike's going to come through in the clutch for us. It still wasn't Mike's best stuff. He can still play better and there's still another level for our entire team."

Pine Manor's Rasheed Bell did some major damage for the Gators. He played in 38 out of 40 minutes and scored a game-high 23 points, while also tying the game-high eight rebounds.

The Mountaineers held a major advantage in free throws as they notched 28 points from the line compared to Pine Manor's 10. The Gators struggled for any form of consistency from the charity stripe, only making 45 percent of their free throws.

The win pushes SVC's record to 5-0 as they continue their impressive early season run. The Mountaineers will be back in action on Tuesday when they take on Sage on the road. The Gators will be entering that matchup with a 3-2 record, having topped SUNY Canton Saturday afternoon. Tip off is set for 8 p.m. at Kahl Gym in Albany, N.Y.     

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aauoin@benningtonbanner.com and at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.


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