Vermont earned a 77-74 America East win at UMBC on Sunday afternoon after holding off a late comeback by the Retrievers. UVM tied a program record with its 15th consecutive overall victory and 13th straight league win.
The 2016-17 Catamounts are the eighth team in America East history to start conference play at 13-0. The green and gold improves their overall record to 23-5. UMBC drops to 16-9 overall and 7-5 in league play. The victory marked the 21st straight win by UVM against UMBC.
Vermont shot 50.0% (25-for-50) from the floor and held UMBC to 41.3% (26-for-53) shooting. The Cats outrebounded the Retrievers 46-24 which turned into 18 second chances points for UVM.
Dre Wills recorded his first double-double of the season with 22 points, matching a career-high, and tallied 13 rebounds. The senior shot 9-of-12 from the floor and charted four offensive boards. Anthony Lamb dropped 16 points on 4-of-7 shooting and made 7-of-8 trips at the charity stripe. Trae Bell-Haynes was right behind him with 15 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Payton Henson was the fourth Catamounts to post double figures with 11 points and nine rebounds.
K.J. Maura matched Wills with 22 points for UMBC on 8-of-12 shooting and sank all six attempts at the line. Jairus Lyles added 14 points with six rebounds and five steals. Will Darley rounded the Retrievers' scoring attack with 13 points, five boards, and a pair of steals.
The Catamounts fell behind early as the Retrievers started the game on a 9-2 run but the green and gold quickly answered. Wills grabbed a pair of offensive boards and made the easy putbacks to spark a 9-2 run for UVM which tied the game at 11-11 near the midway point of the first half.
The two squads traded baskets in the final minutes of the first period and the Cats walked into the locker room with a 32-27 lead.
Vermont opened the second half on an 8-0 run to pad its lead to 40-27 within the first two minutes.
As the Cats held an 18-point lead with 6:47 left on the clock, the Retrievers mounted a comeback and trailed by one point in the final minute. With a two-point lead, Bell-Haynes sank a pair of free throws to push the lead to 74-70 with 28 ticks on the clock.
On UMBC's next trip down the floor, Maura made a layup to cut the deficit in half. The two teams traded free throws with 10 seconds remaining, but Lamb gave UVM a three-point lead with five seconds to go in regulation after knocking down two shots from the line.
After a UMBC timeout, Maura threw up a 30-footer at the buzzer which clanked off the side of the rim and allowed the Cats to keep their unblemished conference record intact.
Vermont travels to UMass Lowell on Wednesday (Feb. 15) in the road finale. Action gets underway at 7 p.m. All UVM men's basketball games can be heard on ESPN 101.3 FM and online at 1013ESPN.com with Sam Hyman on the call. The game can be seen on ESPN3 and the watchESPN app by logging in with your cable provider.
Courtesy: UVM Athletics
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