Defending a 13-game winning-streak at Patrick Gymnasium, Vermont faced off against Boston University in the final matchup the two founding America East teams will play as conference foes. Boston is leaving the America East next year and is ineligible for tournament play
Earlier this season Boston defended their home court with a 63-53 victory. On Tuesday the Cats were without key shotmaker Candon Rusin, sidelined with a turf toe injury and listed as day-to-day. Trey Blue drew the start in his absence.
Early in the game the fans at Patrick Gym became acquainted with Terriers spot-up shooting specialist John Papale. Just over halfway through the first period the first-year knocked down a long two followed by a trey 30 seconds later, prompting a John Becker timeout with the Cats down 15-11. Papale finished with 19 points on 7-12 shooting, including 3-5 from distance.
The Catamounts responded in the final eight minutes of the period, riding Brian Voelkel to a 12-6 run. The former America East rookie of the year scored and set up eight of the 12 points to close out the half. The score entering the intermission was Cats 23 Terriers 22.
Early in the second half Boston tried to rattle the Catamounts with some full-court pressure from their nimble backcourt duo D.J. Irving and Maurice Watson. This strategy quickly came to a halt as Brian Voelkel finished a three-point-play the old-fashioned way then set up Clancy Rugg for one of his own.
As was the case throughout the entire second half, the Terriers squashed the Catamounts momentum before it got started with big shots from distance in response to the home team’s baskets.
Coach John Becker credited Boston for their shot making ability but felt his team was “a step behind all night in their rotation. Defensively in the second half we just didn’t play well enough, gave up 42 points,” Becker added.
A rush of questionable calls midway through the second half brought the Patrick Gym to its feet and a disgruntled Becker received a technical after showing his displeasure to the third and final call. After intercepting a pass Trey Blue appeared to have a clear path to the basket when a trailing Terriers player grabbed him from behind. The play resulted in only in a loose-ball foul rather than a clear-path foul.
Afterward the Cats offense went stagnant, their only points coming at the free-throw line for over seven minutes. Finally, the trio of Sandro Carissimo, Clancy Rugg and Brian Voelkel clawed back and scored or distributed 13-straight points.
Unfortunately for the home fans John Papale had an answer for every Catamounts push. He netted 10 points in under four minutes, including two huge threes in response to pivotal Catamounts baskets. The Terriers sunk their free-throws and came out on top 64-59.
In addition to Papale the Terriers had nice outings from Dom Morris and DJ Irving. Morris scored 12 points and pulled down 10 rebounds while Irving contributed a little of everything, accounting for seven points, seven rebounds and six assists.
The Catamounts were once again led in rebounds and assists by Brian Voelkel who chipped in 11 points. Trey Blue added 11 and Clancy Rugg scrapped all night recording two steals two blocks to go along with his 12 points.
The Catamounts travel to Stony Brook on Friday for another key America East matchup. Winning a tough conference game on the road would put the Catamounts back in the driver’s seat in terms of controlling their own destiny for the America East championship.