The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Catamounts kick off 23-24 campaign with win over Merrimack

Jamie Kaplan
UVM men’s basketball wins 67-55 against Merrimack College on Nov. 6.

On Nov. 6, the Vermont men’s basketball team took on Merrimack College, the reigning Northeast Conference champions, marking the official start to the regular season.

In front of a packed Patrick Gym, the Catamounts were looking to continue their trend of home dominance. In the past two years, they have lost only once on their home floor.

Five of Vermont’s 10-man rotation made their Catamount debut. Junior transfers from Tarleton State and Fairfield, Shamir Bogues and TJ Long, respectively, joined the starting five, with grad student transfers Jace Roquemore and Brenton Mills coming off the bench.

Even with the holes left by graduates and transfers, head coach John Becker and the rest of the coaching staff were able to add valuable experience to a team with championship aspirations and expectations.

Both teams played with energy and physicality, but Merrimack’s infamous 2-3 zone defense forced Vermont’s offense to play at a much slower pace. Last year, the Warriors led the entire country in forcing turnovers, but at the cost of defensive positioning.

The Catamounts maintained their composure and offensive identity, leading to some offensive opportunities.

The newcomers shined early in the game: Long made two three-pointers early in the first quarter to get the crowd into it, and Bogues got the arena rocking with some electrifying finishes and dominant defense, scoring 17 points in the first half.

Some quality minutes off the bench from redshirt sophomore Sam Alamutu gave Vermont extra positions and open looks, propelling the Catamounts to a 16-point lead heading into halftime.

Merrimack refused to go away and kept the game within reach. The Warriors even got within single digits of the Catamounts, but the presence of veteran guard Aaron Deloney was enough to get the Cats back on track.

A 10-0 Vermont run followed by clutch buckets down the stretch from Deloney silenced any Merrimack momentum, sealing Vermont’s first win of the year.

Fans left happy as Vermont walked away with a 67-55 win. Bogues led the way with 19 points, but it was the team’s energy, intensity and hustle that proved too much for Merrimack. Vermont’s next test awaits them in Myrtle Beach.

The College of Charleston, a squad that won over 30 games last year, headlines an early-season tournament that will give the Catamounts an opportunity to show why they are going for their third consecutive America East title.

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