The best team in the American East showed up at Tsongas Center on Wednesday night, even playing short-handed did not stop them from staying unbeaten in league play. With four players in double figures and shooting a blistering 62.3% from the field, the Vermont Catamounts defeated the UMASS-Lowell River Hawks 87-66.
UMASS Lowell scored the first basket of the game as Junior Guard Jahad Thomas took the ball to the basket for a 2-0 lead, it would be the only time they would be in front. Vermont would hit six of their first seven shots to take a 12-5 lead into the first media timeout.
The Catamounts took advantage of their size at every position, driving the ball at will against the smaller River Hawks. As Head Coach John Becker said after the game “we wanted to take the ball to the basket and use our size”.
The only UMASS Lowell player having any success in the first half was Freshman Guard Rinardo Perry who knocked down three straight from long distance to try and keep his team in the game. Perry would finish with 11 first-half points on his way to 13 for the game.
Vermont was led by Anthony Lamb also with 11 in the first half on his way to a game-high 24 points, whether off the dribble or pulling up and shooting jump shots he was a load. River Hawk forward Tyler Livingston said afterward “Lamb is tough”.
The Cats began the second half with a 13 point lead at 44-31, the lead would balloon to 20 with 11:00 left in the game at 66-46 and it would stay there for the rest of the game. Trae Bell-Haynes finished with 18 including a perfect five for five from the free throw line. In fact, the team went 13-16 from the stripe for 81% as they came into the game shooting 74%.
Also contributing was Payton Henson with 11 on the night and Senior Kurt Steidl who Coach Becker called the “toughest kid I ever coached”. He too had 11 on the night.
UMASS Lowell was once again led by Thomas who struggled in the first half because Vermont’S defense tried to make it hard on him. Still, he managed to finish the game with 28 points on 13 of 19 shooting taking the ball to the rim when he could. Every shot he took was inside the arc as the Cats made him a driver all night long. Livingston also finished in double figures with 14 on 6-8 from the field.
This night belong to the visitors from Burlington Vermont who with the win improved to 14-0 in league play and 8-0 on the road. They are one of only three teams in D-1 basketball with an unbeaten conference record and own the second-longest active winning streak.
For the River Hawks, two games remain on the schedule for the 2016-17 season and as Coach Duquette said afterward “we need to keep challenging ourselves and get better. Their next chance to do that comes in their final road game of the season this Saturday at UMBC.
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