The University of Vermont women’s basketball team is building something of a dynasty.
The Catamounts have won the tournament championship two years in a row, posting a 47-18 record during that span.
The team came out of the gate fast, taking a commanding 18-point lead at halftime over the Hawks. After the Hawks took a three-point lead in the opening moments of the game, the Catamounts went on a scorching 18-1 run to take at 17-point lead with under six minutes remaining in the half.
The Catamount defense was sharp as they held Hartford to zero field goals for 10 and half minutes, and just four of their first 16 shots from the field.
The second half was a different story. The Hawks’ defensive stronghold held Vermont to just 18 percent shooting from the field. In addition, they ramped up their offense and went on an 11-2 run of their own, cutting Vermont’s lead to nine with under 12 minutes to play.
Vermont senior Courtnay Pilypaitis drained her third three-point shot of the night with two minutes left, increasing the Catamount lead to six, a lead that the Hawks would not be able to overcome.
“I think we just said to ourselves to lock down defensively, and once we did that, it just turned into great offense, we kind of got away from that in the second half,” Pilypaitis said.
“We knew they’d come back, but that’s what leads are for,” Dawley said. “When we were up by 18, no way did I think we were going to win by 18 or more. It was just, ‘Good, we have a cushion, because when they come back, we’ll be OK.'”
The Cats used their momentum to beat Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA tournament with a score of 64-55.
Though Vermont was a 10 seed and Wisconsin was a 7 seed, the ladies pulled off the upset in the first-ever meeting between the two teams in women’s basketball.
Pilypiatis led the way with 25 points, 8 rebounds, and four assists. Kotsopoulos added 14 points to the total.
The victory was the first NCAA tournament win for the team, and their season will continue into the second round where they will play Notre Dame on March 23.