Hoopcats go dancing again!

UVM men’s basketball downs Lowell 72-59 in America East Championship, punch their ticket back to the NCAA Tournament
UVM men’s basketball downs Lowell 72-59 in America East Championship, punch their ticket back to the NCAA Tournament
Published: Mar. 11, 2023 at 2:18 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The UVM men’s basketball team is headed back to the NCAA Tournament! For the second straight year and tenth time in program history, the Hoopcats are America East champions after downing UMass-Lowell 72-59 Saturday at Patrick Gym.

It wasn’t the most comfortable win Vermont has ever had: the Cats struggled to get going offensively and trailed 29-21 late in the first half. But an Aaron Deloney three shortly before the break gave UVM momentum headed to the locker room, and they ran with it.

Matt Veretto was huge in his first conference final, knocking down a trio of triples en route to 15 points. The first gave UVM a 33-32 lead with 17:10 to go, one which they would ultimately never relinquish. Back to back triples later in the game gave the Cats the breathing room they needed.

“So amazing, it’s something I dreamed of from when I was five years old,” Veretto said. “This is why I came to Vermont. I trusted my teammates, everybody stepped up, it feels so amazing and Selection Sunday coming tomorrow, it can’t get better than this.”

Dylan Penn led the way for the Cats. His 21 points helped keep UVM in it when the jumpers weren’t falling in the first half, and a second half triple played a key role in putting the game away.

“It’s surreal man, this is why I love basketball,” Penn said after the game. “That’s why I play. It’s just, I’m really speechless out here now. Like I’ve been thinking about this for a year and for it to come through like this, it’s a dream come true.”

Finn Sullivan started a little slow by his standards, but ultimately chipped in 14 points, the last four coming off a three pointer and-one with just over two minutes to play to deliver the dagger.

“It’s unbelievable,” said head coach John Becker after the game. “You get to this game and you want it so bad for your players and for the community, You know, second half, the guys just willed themselves to a win and it’s incredible, incredible. I’m so happy.”

UVM will head to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in the last 21 years. They’ll where they’re headed and who they will play Sunday evening during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show, which can be seen at 6 p.m. on WCAX.