Sophomore Sando Carissimo led Vermont men’s basketball to their ninth straight win on Feb. 15 against Albany. Carissimo nailed a pair of free throws with only nine seconds left, putting the Cats ahead 50-47.
Fans were constantly kept on their toes as the Albany Great Danes came out strong with an early 7-3 lead on the Catamounts. However, the Cats got back on their feet and came up with an 18-10 lead, thanks to a layup from senior Pat Bergmann with 8:21 left in the half.
As the final three minutes approached, senior Matt Glass gave Vermont a lead of nine points, their biggest so far. With that, Albany answered right back, scoring the final five points of the half. However, this was not enough to match Vermont, leaving the score at the half 24-20, Vermont.
When the clock started back up, both teams burst out of their locker rooms ready to come out on top. During the first 10 minutes the teams tied twice, and had six lead changes.
Fans were ready to erupt as the scores continued to fluctuate. With 10 minutes to go, Albany’s Mike Black sank a layup putting the Danes ahead 32-30.
Within the next four minutes Vermont battled fiercely, trailing Albany by a mere one point with 6:01 left in the game. The Cats continued to prove their dominance with back-to-back 3-pointers from Carissimo and Glass and a layup made by Sophomore Luke Apfeld. This left the score at 46-37 with 37 seconds remaining.
Albany was unsatisfied and continued to challenge the Catamounts. Over the final 37 seconds the Danes pushed another seven straight points, trailing Vermont by only two, 46-44. Albany kept up their momentum, adding another 3-pointer and leaving the Cats down by one.
With 21 seconds to go, Apfeld continued to rack up the score, dunking into the net, inching the Catamounts closer to the win. With this Albany’s Jacob Lati hit a 3-pointer, turning the final seconds into one-point nail-biter.
As tensions flared, the Cats never lost heart, and it paid off. With 16 seconds left, Carissimo was fouled and went on to sink both free throws from the line, ending the game with Vermont on top, 50-47.
On Feb. 18, it was a genuine team effort as the Vermont men’s basketball team dominated over the Niagara University Purple Eagles, 92-70.
Straight off a hard-fought win on the road against Albany, the Catamounts were ready to lay down the law on their home court at Patrick Gym.
The Cats owned the court throughout the first five minutes of play, led by captain Matt Glass, on a foul. From then on the Catamounts were unstoppable, scoring another 11 points, bringing the score to 13-3 with a timeout at 15:13.
Straight from the huddle, Niagara’s Antoine Mason scored two points from the foul line. As the ball turned back over to Vermont, sophomores Brian Voelkel and Luke Apfeld earned a joint four points — Apfeld’s from the foul line.
Tensions in the gym intensified as fouls continued and both teams battled fiercely for possession. With a timeout on the floor at 11:52, Niagara trailed Vermont 17-10.
The Cats ran the floor, as first-year McGlynn and junior Brendan Bald hit back-to-back 3-pointers, forcing the fans out of their seats.
For the last 10 minutes of the half, Niagara was back on offense with first-year Scooter Gillette scoring his team three points, one of which was a free throw.
Niagara’s run was short-lived as Glass regained possession for Vermont, scoring another three points.
After a few possesion changes and with Vermont’s 38-25 lead, sophomore Clancy Rugg came off the bench thirsty for more, scoring back-to-back layups, plus an extra point off a free throw. Rugg was just getting warmed up.
Coming out of the half, Niagara continued attempts to inch their way up. The Catamount’s defense remained solid, however, allowing little room for the Eagles to advance.
“Defense is where we win games; we know that,” said McGlynn.
Possession constantly switched back and forth, with Niagara still trailing by 20. With 15 minutes remaining, Bald was triple-teamed by the Eagles, causing uproar from the crowd, bringing the tension to its boiling point.
As both teams entered their huddles for a timeout, persistent boos could be heard from the crowd.
The Catamounts continued to dominate the court in the final few minutes, as McGlynn sunk his sixth 3-pointer of the game and Rugg totaled up to 15 points.
“[Clancy] has always had talent; every day I always challenge him to get better. He gets in there and he really battles. I’m excited to have him for the next couple years,” said head coach John Becker.
With a final timeout at the four-minute mark, two of Niagara’s players had already been fouled out of the game, knocking down the team’s confidence. Vermont continued to bring the heat, with contributions from every player. This resulted was a final score of 92-70, in favor of the Catamounts.
The Cats came back out Feb. 21 against the last place Binghamton, dropping the game in a 57-53 upset. This loss gives Stony Brook the chance to secure the top spot in America East.
The Cats will need to beat UMBC on Feb. 25 and Stony Brook must lose to Maine on Feb. 26 for Vermont to finish in first. If that fails, the Cats will finish in second, still in good position going into the America East playoffs.