After an opening day that saw only one home team get a win, things changed after the first full week of play. Home teams went 6-2 last week with the UNH Wildcats and the Bryant Bulldogs as the only teams to win on the road. It is hard to win away from home in any league and the America East Conference is no exception. The news in the polls continued to be good. Three teams are in the Small Conference Top 25 Week 11 poll. Vermont is at #6, UMass Lowell is at #7, and Bryant is at #19. In the Mid-Major Top 25 poll, Vermont is at #24 while the River Hawks received a few votes. If you are wondering, Samford out of the Southern Conference, is the #1 team in the small conference poll with a record of 15-2. They are on a 15-game winning streak. In the Mid-Major poll, Gonzaga is the #1 team at 11-4. Here is more news from AE.
The defending champs, the Vermont Catamounts (13-5, 3-0), have picked up where they left off last season. Victories over UMBC and NJIT at home ran their winning streak vs league teams to 18 in a row. In the victory over the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, the Catamounts placed four of their five starters in double-figures in getting the 77-72 win. In a game that had no ties and only one lead change, Vermont was able to win this game based on a better production from their starting five as well as not fouling, UMBC only went to the line twice all game making one FT. The Retrievers also stayed away from fouling in this one, as Vermont only went to the line seven times making five of them. In the win over NJIT, The Catamounts led from wire-to-wire shooting 52% from the field (25-of-48) and 44% from behind the arc (11-of-25). It should also be noted that Tariq Francis of the Highlanders did not play in Vermont.
The Bryant Bulldogs (11-7, 3-0) are putting points on the board in bunches so far in league play. Last week in their two wins over Binghamton at home and New Hampshire on the road. The Bulldogs averaged 83 points a game. In the win over the Bearcats, four players finished in double-figures. Daniel Rivers got a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds and Sherif Gross-Bullock led the way with 24 points. In the road win on Saturday night in Durham, five players ended in double-figures. Earl Timberlake had a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds, his seventh double-double (tied for 24th in the nation). He also leads in the league with those seven. The Bulldogs like to play fast and so far they have shown they are pretty good at it.
The UMass Lowell River Hawks (12-4, 3-0) used home cooking to their advantage last week to pick up a couple of wins. In a hard-fought win over the Highlanders, it was the backcourt that got the job done. Branden O’Connor with 22 points and Ayinde Hikim with 12 combined for 34 points, five assists, and seven rebounds in the 70-62 win. The River Hawks outscored the Highlanders by nine in the second half to erase a one-point halftime deficit. On Saturday, the River Hawks used their power game to defeat UMBC. getting 56 points in the paint. Senior Max Brooks had a double-double of 24 points and 13 boards for his third of the year. The River Hawks front court finished the game with 41 points, 19 rebounds, and three blocks. Their 3-0 mark in league play is their best to start a season. The team is on a five-game winning streak.
The UAlbany Great Danes (10-7, 2-0) took care of Binghamton by twenty on Saturday 95-75. It was their only game of the week. Once again points in the paint were huge in this one as the Great Danes scored 52 in the paint. They placed five players in double-figures led by Sebastian Thomas with 30 points. He is 42nd in the country in points with 320. They got a double-double off the bench from Muneer Newton of 13 points and 13 rebounds. The Bearcats did have five in double-figures but on the defensive end, they could not slow down the Great Danes. UAlbany has a big game at home on Thursday night as the River Hawks will come calling.
One reason for the slow start by UMBC (5-12, 0-3) could have something to do with the roster. The Retrievers are one of six Division I teams that returned zero players from last year’s team. The others are Notre Dame, Penn State, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Northwestern State, and Utah State. Getting to know one another does take time, and in this case maybe a little longer than expected. UMBC is 0-3 for the first time since the 2019-2020 season when they lost their first four games. Sophomore guard Dion Brown is tied for 15th in the country with 124 FGs made. He is inside the top 75 in points with 316.
UNH’s Clarence Daniels is having a fine all-around year for the Wildcats. After scoring 48 total points in two games last week, Daniels is tied for 31st in the nation with 327 points. He is also tied for 34th in the nation with six double-doubles. He is 15th in the nation in scoring, averaging 20.4 points per game. He is also tied for 48th in rebounds with 146 total, 123 on the defensive end, and 23 on the offensive side.
The America East Player of the Week is UAlbany Sebastian Thomas. His 30 points vs Binghamton were a game-high. He also passed out seven assists, had four rebounds, and two steals. He shot 57% from the field in the game going 12-for-21. This is Thomas’ first weekly award. The America East Rookie of the Week is Tariq Francis of NJIT. He had 15 points off the Highlanders bench in the road loss to Lowell. He was 6-for-20 from the field and 3-of-10 from deep. For Francis, this is the fourth weekly award which leads all rookies. He also leads all rookies in scoring at 11.1 a game. For NJIT, this is the seventh time that a player from this team has won the Rookie Award (Robinson with three, Francis with four).
Next week, we’ll be back with more from America East.
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