A pair of Vermonters lifted the Vermont Catamounts to an 81-73 victory over Stony Brook before a near sellout crowd at Patrick Gymnasium in a battle for first place in America East men's basketball action on Friday. Candon Rusin poured in a career-high 25 points, 17 in the second half, and Clancy Rugg added 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for UVM.
Vermont improved to 12-6 on the year and 5-1 in America East, while Stony Brook suffered its first league loss and fell to 13-5 overall and 4-1 in the conference.
Vermont, which has won 12 straight America East games at Patrick Gymnasium, snapped Stony Brook's five-game win streak. The Catamounts are off to their best league start since the 2009-10 campaign.
The rematch of last year's America East Championship Game featured the two best defensive teams in the league, but the squads combined for 154 points in the contest.
Vermont controlled much of the action in the first stanza, but could not pull away from Stony Brook. The Catamounts shot 41.9 percent from the floor and headed to the locker room with a 32-27 lead at the break.
The Seawolves cut the lead to three on a basket by Carson Puriefoy to open the second stanza, but UVM answered with a 9-0 run to open up a 44-29 lead at the 15:19 mark. A 3-pointer by Ron Bracey got the Seawolves within 11 with 13:38 left and the Catamounts answered again, using a 12-0 run to push its lead to 18, 55-37, with exactly 10 minutes remaining in the contest.
Stony Brook battled back, producing a 10-0 run of its own to cut the lead to single digits with just over six minutes left in the contest and whittled the lead to four with 2:48 remaining.
Vermont held off the Seawolves by making 10 of 12 free throws in the closing minutes and Rusin and Rugg each made key plays on both ends of the floor.
Rusin had two standout plays for the Catamounts. With 1:28 remaining in the game he jumped on a loose ball to pick up a steal and added a jumper with 41 seconds left to push a five-point advantage to seven. Rugg added five free throws, a block and a pair of defensive rebounds to help the UVM seal the victory.
Jameel Warney led five Seawolves in double figures with 15 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the year. Dave Coley also netted 15 points for Stony Brook, which shot 42.4 percent from the field for the game.
Vermont begins a three-game road swing at Maine on Tuesday (Jan. 22).
Courtesy: Vermont Athletics
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