Men’s Hoop: Catamounts Jump Into Third Place in America East, Top UNH 73-67

Courtesy Vermont Sports Information

BURLINGTON – Up by three with under three minutes to play, Cam Ward drilled a deep three-pointer as the shot clock winded down to put the Vermont men’s basketball team up for good in a 73-67 win over New Hampshire on ‘Senior Night’ from Patrick Gym. UVM improves to 18-12 and 10-5 in league play while the Wildcats fall to 17-11 and 10-5 in conference action.

Ward finished the night with 11 points – his third straight game in double-figures – and five assists. Trae Bell-Haynes scored a game-high 16 points and connected on a career-best three 3-pointers. Kurt Steidl chipped in with 13 points and six rebounds and Ethan O’Day, playing in his final regular season home game, went for eight points and eight rebounds in the winning effort.

Only five New Hampshire players scored led by 16 from Jaleen Smith. Leading scorer Tanner Leissner finished with 15 points but shot just 3-of-15 from the field.

In two meetings this season, Vermont has held New Hampshire to just 30.1% shooting.

With the win, John Becker now has 105 career wins at Vermont, which ties him with Peter Salzberg for fourth-most in program history.

Both teams showed strong interior defense to start the game as Vermont held just a 6-2 advantage four minutes in. The Catamount defensive effort was stout, limiting the Wildcats to 2-for-14 shooting in the first eight minutes of the contest. UVM eventually found some rhythm offensively and jumped ahead by 10 after a Ward three-point play at the 8:09 mark.

New Hampshire fought back and used a 12-2 run fueled by a pair of threes from Ronnel Jordan to tie the game at 22. UVM held a 28-27 lead at the half.

After a Vermont turnover allowed the Wildcats to take their first and only lead of the game (33-32 at the 17:02 mark of the second half), Bell-Haynes knocked down trifectas on consecutive possessions to put his team back up by one.

A 6-0 Vermont spurt – sparked by a layup from Bell-Haynes and jumper from Ernie Duncan – got the lead back out to nine with 10:38 to go. Steidl’s and-one kept the lead at eight just two minutes later.

The Wildcats found their way back into the game thanks to a 7-0 run which cut the lead to one (59-58) and then, after Vermont pushed the advantage back to six, Smith connected on a deep three to make it 67-64 with just 2:45 to play.

That set the stage for Ward’s triple and Vermont hit its free throws down the stretch to pick up its 16th straight victory over UNH at Patrick Gym.

Vermont closes out the regular season on the road at regular season champion Stony Brook on Saturday night from the Island Federal Credit Union Arena. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. and all the action can be seen on ESPN3 and the ESPN App with Chris Villani and Frank Sullivan on the call. Local radio coverage begins at 6:30 on ESPN 101.3 FM with AJ Kanell bringing you the action.