Bench scoring provides lift in winning streak

The America East conference is very familiar with Vermont’s dangerous tandem of junior Marqus Blakely and senior Mike Trimboli. Now the conference is discovering a new weapon Vermont has added to its repertoire – its bench. Vermont, which was picked to finish second in the conference during preseason rankings, was sluggish to start conference play, dropping games to both Albany and Binghamton. But after beating Boston U, the preseason’s top ranked team, the Cats have used stingy defense and a deep rotation, which has led to five straight wins, including Sunday’s 72-56 win over UNH.”I’m glad our guys stayed confident after the two-game losing streak, stuck together and got back to playing some good Vermont defense,” head coach Mike Lonergan said.Increased production from the bench, which has averaged just under 30 points per game, has been pivotal in the wins. The leading scorer off the bench, junior Maurice Joseph, has averaged 11 points and hit 13 3-pointers in six conference games. Another 3-point specialist, sophomore Joey Accaoui, has been a major contributor to the bench’s success. “It is nice to see Mojo and Joey continue to help us off the bench,” Lonergan said. “Their 3-point shooting has really opened things up for us.”As the bench has increased its production, Blakely, last year’s America East player of the year, has seen a dip in his output. Blakely’s scoring has dropped slightly due to frequent double teams and being trapped in the post. In turn, Blakely has shown that he is not only a scorer, but he can also dish out the ball and find the open man. He is second only to Trimboli in assists during conference play.Trimboli has struggled at times in conference play as well. He’s shooting just 25 percent from the 3-point line but he has compensated by using his crafty drives to the hoop to get him the free throw line. In conference games, he has averaged over seven free throws per game. Vermont is a half game outside first place behind Binghamton in the conference and holds the best overall record amongst America East teams. Vermont’s next home game is against Maine in an important America East match-up at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.