BENNINGTON >> The first half of the season opener for the Southern Vermont College men's basketball team was fast. The second half went into overdrive.
Playing a relentless defense and turning it around to the offensive side, the Mountaineers scored 58 points in the second half and topped MCLA, 102-72, at the Mountaineer Athletic Center on Friday night.
"It was hyperspeed good and hyperspeed bad, we didn't have the cleanest [first half]," said Southern Vermont coach Dan Engelstad. "We turned the ball over in the first half, we managed that, but we fouled too much. But we have a good defensive basketball team and we have a lot of depth. It's a fun style and it played out pretty well tonight."
Four players hit double figures for the Mountaineers, including all-American and leading scorer DeShawn Hamlet who had 23 points and nine rebounds. Off the bench, Rayshawn Taylor was next with 14 points and seven rebounds of his own. Casey Hall and White each had 10 and Will Bromirski added nine. Jeff James filled the scoresheet with eight rebounds, five assists and three steals to go along with five points.
The Mountaineers took a 19-point lead, 44-25, into the break and right off the start, scored the first seven points to extend the advantage to 51-25. MCLA's next four baskets were from behind the arc, with Careem Kirksey (12 points) and Paul Maurice (10 points) each hitting a pair to force a Southern Vermont timeout.
On the next play, Hamlet hit a basket and made the 3-point play to set SVC in motion once again.
"He is what we call a cheat code," Engelstad said. "He's a force, he's reading double teams, passing the ball. He got that 23 in the confines of how we play."
"a lot of diff guys that can put up some numbers, 5 or 6 can do it. 4 tonight, it all adds up, we got to 100.
Two Taylor free throws gave Southern Vermont a 68-45 lead with 10 minutes left, then in a blink, Brandon Casella buried a three and Daemond Carter forced a turnover, hit a layup and was fouled and completed his 3-point play to jack the lead up to 30 at 78-48.
"We planned to speed up at halftime, we play full court on the defensive side and we did a good job with that, but we took it easy on the offensive side so they were catching their wind," White said. "We said, let's do it on both ends and put the pressure on them."
Taylor was the second-leading scorer for the Mountaineers, and his 14 points came in only 10 minutes on the floor.
"Rayshawn had a great night, he wasn't forcing shots, he's an offensive force," Engelstad said. "He gets strong touches in the post and I'm more proud of the seven rebounds then the points."
At the same time, MCLA didn't make a basket for seven minutes late in the second half, but they did hit 13-of-14 from the line, something that first year MCLA coach Anthony Skiffington was pleased about.
"After they had their run [in the second half], I told them we were [going to] work on everything we do," Skiffington said. "We battled and I was happy, we shot well from the free throw line and our shooting percentage went up."
As the minutes wound down, the only question would be if Southern Vermont would hit the century mark and they did on two free throws with a minute left from junior Ervin Cook.
"We're doing all the little stuff that winning teams do," Engelstad said. "We're stressing to make the right basketball play, we missed some open shots but anytime you hit 100, you can't be disappointed."
SVC has the next week off and travels to the Hoopsville National Invitational Classic at Stevenson University for games against Salisbury and St. Thomas (Minnesota).