Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
STONY BROOK, N.Y. – Ernie Duncan matched a career-high with 23 points and the Vermont men’s basketball team wrapped up the regular season in style posting a 76-62 win at Stony Brook Saturday night. UVM heads into the postseason at 19-12 overall and 11-5 in league play to clinch the No. 3 seed in the America East Playoffs while the regular season champion Seawolves fall to 23-6 and 14-2 in conference action.
Duncan scored 16 of his game-high 23 in the first half and shot a blistering 8-of-12 for the game including 4-of-4 from downtown. Trae Bell-Haynes finished with 16 points and Ethan O’Day chipped in with 10 points and four rebounds while limiting two-time America East Player of the Year Jameel Warney to just 13 points.
Rayshaun McGrew paced the Seawolves with 17 points and nine rebounds and Carson Puriefoy finished with 16 points. Warney went for 13 and eight rebounds in the losing effort.
After Stony Brook scored the first three points of the game, it was all Catamounts for the remainder of the first half. A 9-0 run following the opening bucket – highlighted by a Bell-Haynes triple and an O’Day hook – set the stage for the rest of the night.
A Kurt Steidl 3-pointer gave the Cats an 11-point lead at the 11:40 mark before Stony Brook trimmed it to four on a layup from McGrew with 9:15 to go in the first half.
Vermont pushed the cushion back out to eight when Duncan caught fire. He scored nine of the next 11 Catamount points (assisted on the other two) and put his squad up 37-20 with just 3:16 showing on the clock. Two Cam Ward free throws brought the lead back to double-digits before the half ended after the Seawolves cut it to eight.
Vermont was able to keep Stony Brook at arms length for a majority of the second half and led by 15 at one point early on after another Steidl trifecta with 14:27 to play. Stony Brook got the lead all the way down to six after a Vermont turnover led to an Ahmad Walker transition dunk with 5:29 to play.
A John Becker timeout calmed the troops and the Cats finished the game on a 15-7 run featuring a pair of old-fashioned three-point plays for Bell-Haynes to ice the game and put the Cats up by as many as 18 late in the contest.
The win – Vermont’s second straight at the Island Federal Credit Union Arena and fifth straight overall – marked the first time Stony Brook has been defeated at home this season.
Vermont begins its quest for a sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday night in the America East Playoffs against No. 6 seed Maine. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. and all the action can be seen on ESPN3 and the ESPN App. Eric Frede and Frank Sullivan will have the call. Local radio coverage begins at 7 on ESPN 101.3 FM with AJ Kanell and Bernie Cieplicki bringing you the action.