Scotty Jones scored a career-high 21 points to lead a balanced attack as Vermont ran past New Hampshire, 85-68, in America East men’s college basketball at the Patrick Gym on Wednesday night.
The win, Vermont’s ninth in ten home games this season, improved the Catamounts record to 16-10 overall and 9-4 in the America East. They also remained two games behind league-leading Boston University (11-2), who topped Maine in Boston tonight.
Jones with 10 rebounds, and Germain Njila with a career-high 12, led a dominating inside attack as Vermont out-rebounded the much smaller Wildcats, 50-31. The Catamounts also had 19 offensive rebounds that led to 25 second-chance points. Vermont also shot 51% for the game while their stingy defense, one of the best in the conference, limited UNH to 39%.
Six points by Matt Sheftic and two baskets by Njila gave Vermont a 10-0 lead three minutes into the contest.
They widened the lead to 18-2 before a 9-0 run by UNH closed the gap. But three-pointers by David Hehn, Corey Sullivan and Mike Goia gave UVM a 44-27 lead at the break.
The Catamounts, who have now won six straight against their border rivals, led by as many as 30 points before the final margin.
In addition to Jones (8-for-10 FG’s), Vermont had two others in double figures and a total of seven players tally eight or more. Goia finshed with 12 points and Sullivan 10 while the America East’s leading scorer, Taylor Coppenrath, was limited to a season-low eight points. Coppenrath was in foul trouble much of the first half and played only 21 minutes in the one-sided contest.
For New Hampshire (4-21, 2-12), Ben Sturgill scored 20 points on eight-for-nine shooting and had eight rebounds.
Shawn Collette came off the bench to hit four three-pointers in five tries and had 15. Marcus Bullock also hit three treys and scored 11.
Vermont then hosted Boston University on Saturday at 1:00pm in the Patrick Gym. David Hehn scored a career-high 17 points to lead a balanced attack as Vermont held off the Terriers, 60-53.
The win, Vermont’s tenth in 11 home games this season, improved the Catamounts record to 17-10 overall and 10-4 in the America East. They moved to one game behind the league-leading Terriers (11-3), heading into the final week of the regular season. The 17 wins are also the third-most in program history behind last season’s 21, and 19 in 1946-47.
“I am thrilled that we are in at least second place at this stage of the season,” commented Vermont coach Tom Brennan. “I’m so proud of how tough our guys have played all season and this win sure makes the last week of the season interesting.”
Three points by Grant Anderson capped an 11-0 run over seven minutes gave the Catamounts a 22-14 lead midway through the first half. The teams traded scores before UVM settled into a 28-21 lead at the break.
Taylor Coppenrath opened the second half with an inside hoop before a pair of three-pointers by Billy Collins brought Boston U. even, 34-34, five minutes after halftime. The teams traded the lead but neither could pull away.
Matt Sheftic hit a pair of free throws and then UVM took the lead for good on a three-point play by Grant Anderson, set up by a nifty assist from Sheftic.
On the ensuing possession, Coppenrath drew a charging foul by Rashad Bell and then converted a three-point play of his own on the other end.
After a three by Bell, Hehn answered with a triple at the other end with 24 seconds left that closed out B.U.
“We were sluggish in the first half and the full court pressure in the second half seemed to energize us,” noted B.U. coach Dennis Wolff. “But they were much more aggressive than us and destroyed us on the boards.”
Hehn made four three-pointers in five attempts and had four assists for the winners.
Sheftic, in one of his best games as a Catamount, finished with 16 points (7-for-12 FG’s) and a game-high 11 rebounds while Anderson also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. Limited to just four-for-15 from the floor, Coppenrath tallied 11 points and added seven rebounds as Vermont dominated the glass by a 44-26 margin, with a 15-8 edge on the offensive glass.
Bell led the Terriers (16-9) with 17 points on seven-for-11 from the floor while Seymour added nine and Matt Turner came off the bench with eight.
The Terriers shot just 40% for the game but went five-for-22 (23%) from behind the arc. They committed only four turnovers but had three in the late stages of the contest. Boston U. closes out the regular season with a home game with UNH on Wednesday and a game at crosstown rival Northeastern on the following Sunday.
Vermont wraps up their slate with a game at Hartford on Wednesday and a home game with Albany on Sunday, March 2nd.