On "Senior Night" Vermont's senior class scored 58 of UVM's 69 points as the Catamounts posted a 69-53 victory over Stony Brook before a sellout crowd at Patrick Gymnasium to clinch the program's sixth America East Regular Season Championship and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming America East Tournament.
Vermont improved to 20-9 overall and 14-1 in America East. The Catamounts have won nine straight and 16 of their last 17 games. The win also gave UVM its sixth straight 20-win season and third straight under third-year head coach John Becker.
Stony Brook falls to 20-9 on the year and 12-3 in league play.
The Catamounts took the energy from the pregame "Senior Ceremony" and got off to a fast start. Vermont made seven of its first nine shots to take a 20-5 lead at the 13:09 mark of the first half. Luke Apfeld capped the run with a 3-pointer that pushed him over the 1,000-point milestone. He became the third Catamount to reach the mark this season and the 33rd in program history.
The Seawolves used a 5-2 spurt to stall some of UVM's momentum, but the Catamounts answered with an 8-2 run of its own, sparked by a 3-pointer from Brian Voelkel to push UVM's lead to 18 with 5:35 left in the half.
The Catamounts took a 36-22 lead into the break and finished the half shooting 56.5 percent from the floor. The Seawolves were limited to 31 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes.
Vermont began the second half like the first, making eight of its first 10 shots to extend its lead to 22, 53-31, with 13:31 left in the contest. Stony Brook trimmed the lead to 14, behind an 11-2 run which included five points from Jameel Warney, but that would be as close as the Seawolves would get the rest of the way.
Vermont scored nine straight points, five from Clancy Rugg, to push back out to a 23-point advantage and pick up its 10th win at Patrick Gymnasium this season.
The Catamounts finished the game shooting 54.5 percent from the field and limited Stony Brook to 34 percent shooting for the contest.
Carson Puriefoy scored a game-high 20 points, including a 7-for-7 effort, from the foul line to pace the Seawolves.
Apfeld led four Catamounts in double figures with 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting in 18 minutes off the bench. Sandro Carissimo added 13 points and seven rebounds, while Clancy Rugg and Ethan O'Day combined for 22 points and nine boards. Candon Rusin chipped in 10 points and three assists and Voelkel posted his typical line with seven points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Voelkel came off the bench for the first time in his career, snapping a streak of 129 consecutive starts. He asked to step aside to allow fellow senior Josh Elbaum to earn his first career start on "Senior Night".
Vermont wraps up the regular season with a trip to Binghamton on Sunday (March 2). Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Events Center in Vestal, N.Y. The Catamounts will be the No. 1 seed in the upcoming America East Tournament that begins March 8 at SEFCU Arena on the campus of the University at Albany.
Courtesy: UVM Athletic Department
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