Men’s bball secures pair of key America East wins

In the first half of recent games, Vermont men’s team looks like a team that has come together, a team that could win the America East; an NCAA tournament team.But in the second half, the chemistry and swaggers appeared to have evaporated in recent home games against Binghamton. During each game, Vermont let both teams back into it in the second half despite leading both teams by over 20 points. The Cats eventually lost to Binghamton and barely squeaked by Hartford. “I guess we’re making a habit of that. We definitely need to put teams away when we have the opportunity.” Sophomore Evan Fjeld said after the Hartford game.So when Vermont was clinging to a 50-42 lead with 12:43 left to play in their pivotal game against America East leading Boston U, things did not look pretty. At that moment, something happened. Instead of losing intensity on defense and resorting to sloppy play, which had plagued them recently, the Cats went on a 25-5 run to finish the game. In a dominating fashion, UVM took out the top team in the America East, which according to head coach Mike Lonergan boasts two of the league’s best players as well. Coming in to the game, Lonergan stressed the importance of improving outside shooting. “Our outside shooting has to really improve along with our three-point shooting,” Lonergan said before the game. The Cats did just that, shooting 54 percent from the field and 44 percent from deep.It wasn’t just Lonergan who knew changes needed to be made. Freshman Garvey Young, known for his defensive prowess and athleticism, said after the Hartford game that the team needed to step up on defense and “maintain a killer instinct.” Vermont’s killer instinct seemed to have evolved quickly as they held the Terriers to just 15 second half points and 26 percent shooting. The Cats then followed up the BU win with a 69-64 overtime win on Sunday against Stony Brook, their first overtime win in four attempts this year.With the victories, Vermont has all but silenced doubts about their second half performance and now have fans thinking about an America East championship, which would be followed by an NCAA tournament birth, something Catamount fans haven’t tasted since 2005.With Vermont tied for first in the America East with rival Binghamton, they have one more huge test in a bracket-buster game against Buffalo on Saturday that will air on ESPN2. Unless the Cats reach the A-East championship game as the highest remaining seed, it will be the final chance to catch UVM at Patrick Gym this year.Cats get Senior Day winStony Brook: 26-29-9 – 64UVM: 25-30-14 – 69