Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
BURLINGTON – The Catamounts set the record for the best start in program history by improving to 22-5 overall on the season and held off New Hampshire on Thursday night with an 82-74 America East win at Patrick Gym. The victory extended the nation’s fourth-longest active winning streak to 14 games.
With the 22-5 record, the 2016-17 squad surpassed the 2004-05 team for the best start in UVM’s 117-year history and stay unbeaten at 12-0 in conference play. The Cats are one win away from tying the all-time mark for most consecutive overall and league victories. New Hampshire drops its fourth straight contest for a 14-11 overall record and 5-6 in league play.
Vermont’s offense was fueled by a pair of 20-point outings and four players in double figures.Anthony Lamb matched a career-high with 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds, including nine on the offensive glass. Trae Bell-Haynes followed with 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting and dished out six assists. Kurt Steidl dropped 11 points and six boards while Payon Henson added 10 points, five rebounds, and two blocks.
Daniel Dion was lethal from long distance for UNH. Dion tallied a team-high 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting with seven field goals coming from beyond the arc. Tanner Leissner posted 14 points and seven rebounds. Jaleen Smith added 11 points, six rebounds, and recorded six assists. Iba Camara matched Lamb with 13 rebounds and scored eight points on the offensive end of the floor.
The twin state rivals traded baskets until the midway point when the Wildcats broke out with a 6-0 run and took a 19-13 lead at the 10:37 mark. The Catamounts climbed back with a 7-2 run to cut UNH’s down to 21-20.
New Hampshire built the evening’s first double-digit advantage with a 12-2 run in a three-minute span. Vermont regrouped and finished the half strong with a 16-5 run in the final five minutes as the rivals went into the locker room deadlocked at 38-38.
The green and gold started the second half with back-to-back triples which sparked a 10-4 run but the blue and white managed to keep the game close.
As UVM held onto a four-point lead with 13:25 remaining, Vermont gained momentum and built a 13-point lead in a five-minute span but UNH would not go away quietly. The Wildcats came back with a 16-9 run and trailed 75-69 with three minutes to go in regulation.
Under two minutes left in the game, Dion hit a deep triple to cut UVM’s lead to 75-72. The Cats responded and cashed in at the foul line by scoring seven of the game’s final nine points to seal the conference win over their twin state rival.
Vermont starts a two-game road trip on Sunday (Feb. 12) at UMBC. Action gets underway at 1 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN3 and the watchESPN app by logging in with your cable provider.