Cats claw their way to bracket

It would have been hard to write a better script for the America East championship game last weekend between Vermont and Boston University.

There was everything that one could ask for in a sporting event: a sellout crowd that provided a championship atmosphere, emotional storylines and performances that will live on in the memories of fans and players long after this season.

Vermont beat Boston University 83-70 at Patrick Gymnasium to earn its fourth NCAA tournament bid in school history, behind a career game from senior Marqus Blakely who scored 24 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and dished out five assists in his last game in Patrick Gym.

Many UVM players made huge contributions. Senior point guard Nick Vier shot 4-4 from 3-point range, scoring 15 points, sophomore Garvey Young hit two important 3-point shots and everyone in the starting lineup made plays that propelled Vermont to one of the most memorable wins in school history.

“I am very, very proud of our team and I would like to give Boston University a lot of credit,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “We have a great team with a special player and our fans are tremendous. I am proud of our team, I am proud of our coaches, and I am proud of our program.”

Evan Fjeld recorded nine points and six rebounds in minutes limited by foul trouble while playing with a heavy heart, after the passing of his mother the week before the championship game.

“I am especially happy for Evan Fjeld and his family. It was a rough week for all of us, especially Evan, and he handled it better than anyone could have expected,” Lonergan said.

Blakely, in the closing minutes of the game, threw down one of the most ferocious and vicious dunks of his career over a BU defender, which officially punched Vermont’s fourth bid to the Big Dance.

The memorable dunk was soon followed by the final buzzer, a storming of the court, the cutting of the nets and an embrace between Fjeld and his father that inspired more emotion than any athletic event ever could.