Cats Cruise past Black Bears

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The University of Vermont Men’s Basketball team brushed off their recent scoring woes in a blow out of Maine, 79-48, on Wednesday night. The Cats shot a blistering 53.3 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range, while holding the Black Bears to just 32.8 percent shooting and 14.3 percent from beyond the arc.

“The difference tonight was we got some guys to make shots,” said UVM head coach Mike Lonergan. “We’ve been getting good shots all year; we just haven’t been making them.”

With sophomore Kyle Cieplicki sitting out the game with an injured wrist, Lonegran was looking for his team to respond and they did just that.

Sophomore Josh Duell took Cieplicki’s spot in the starting lineup and spent much of the night running the point. This allowed the starting point guard, freshman, Mike Trimboli to move off the ball and he took advantage of it by hitting four of his five 3-point attempts and finishing with a game-high 15 points.

“Mike’s a really, really good shooter and we’ve got to find ways to get him shots,” Lonergan said.

And they did just this by turning the point guard duties over to Duell. He scored seven points but more importantly he had a career high seven assists.

“In high school I had to bring the ball up a little bit,” said Duell, “So I’m reverting back to that a little bit.”

Meanwhile, Timothy McCrory, Ryan Schneider and Rob Sisca came off the bench to provide a big spark and much needed scoring help. The Cats bench outscored the Black Bears 29-11 in the game.

“We got a lot of key contributions off the bench,” Duell said. “Robbie Sisca came in and hit two 3s and Ryan Schneider played a great game. When you can put it together like that it’s hard to beat.”

In the first half of the game, trailing 16-14, Vermont stepped up the pressure. Over the next seven minutes the Cats held the Black Bears scoreless while going on a 13-0 run to take a commanding lead. That lead only grew as the halftime score was 40-24 in Vermont’s favor.

The second half was no different as the Cats showed off their ever-improving bench, and they extended the lead to 20 and then 30 points.

Junior Chris Holm had 13 points and eight rebounds and Schneider added 11 points and eight rebounds to join Trimboli as double-digit scorers for UVM.

The Cats, one of the youngest teams in the country, played an unprecedented six freshman in the game including two starters. And four of the freshman combined to score 34 of the Cats 79 points for the game.

“We really put it together at both ends, offense and defense, for 40 minutes,” said Lonegran. “We haven’t done that too often this season. Our bench, guys who have been really working hard, came through tonight.”

With the win the Cats improve to 11-12 overall and 7-6 in American East play. The win also propels them into a third place tie with Hartford with just three conference games remaining in the season. The loss drops the Black Bears to 9-15 (4-9) and eighth place overall.

UVM’s next home game is Thursday, February 23 when they take on the Boston University Terriers. The game will be televised on Fox Sports New England and Adelphia Cable.