Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
BURLINGTON — Everett Duncan went off for a career-high 26 points to guide top-seeded Vermont (26-7) over fourth-seeded UMBC (16-17) in the 2020 Hercules Tires America East Semifinals on Tuesday night at Patrick Gym. The Catamounts advance to the conference championship game for the fifth straight season.
“It was a gritty, tough win tonight by our guys,” Cioffi Men’s Basketball Head Coach John Becker said. “We struggled to get stops, but were able to score. Everett Duncan had one of the more special performances I’ve seen. Stef and Anthony were also great, but tonight was about Everett. I couldn’t be more happier or proud of him.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
The conference rivals traded baskets and the lead for most of the first half as neither team led by more than four points. The Retrievers jumped out to an early 6-2 lead, but the Cats quickly erased the deficit 53 seconds later.
Vermont built a six-point lead, 31-25, at the four-minute media timeout. Stef Smith hit a floater in the lane, then slammed home a fastbreak dunk. Anthony Lamb helped the run with a three-pointer in front of UMBC’s bench.
The two teams went back-and-forth in the final minutes of the half as the Green and Gold held a 39-34 advantage at the break.
The Cats stretched the margin to double digits three-and-a-half minutes into the second half after Everett Duncan drilled a left-wing triple.
UMBC used the long ball to climb back into the game. The Retrievers put together a 14-5 run as K.J. Jackson knocked down two deep treys and drew within 53-52 at the 10:23 mark. UVM made a pair of layups but UMBC tied the game at 57-57 two minutes later.
The Cats responded in a big way with a 13-2 run, highlighted by a pair of three-pointers from Duncan and an old-fashioned three-point play from Stef Smith for a 70-59 advantage with five minutes remaining in the game.
R.J. Eytle-Rock made it a two-possession game twice in the late minutes and pulled the Retrievers within four with 1:03 left on the clock. Duncan sank four free throws down the stretch to help the Cats pull away.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Duncan’s 26 points came on 7-of-10 shooting and an impressive 14 points in the second half. The senior was 4-for-7 from deep and a near-perfect 8-for-9 from the line. The captain also pulled down three rebounds, dished out two assists, and recorded one steal.
Smith registered his seventh 20-point game of the season. The guard scored his 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting while recording a team-high eight rebounds.
Lamb was also in double figures with 19 points. The senior had two boards, distributed two assists, and was 5-for-6 from the free throw line.
UVM is the first team since Drexel from 1993-97 to make five America East Championship Games in a row.
With the victory, the Cats Win, Community Wins campaign and Vermont Mutual Insurance Group will donate $100 to a Vermont charity, bringing the 2020 total to 42 wins totaling $4,200. A special thank you to Vermont Mutual Insurance for their support, protecting Vermonters since 1828.
The top-seeded Vermont men’s basketball team will host third-seeded Hartford in the 2020 Hercules Tires America East Championship Game on Saturday (March 14). The opening tip is set for 11 a.m. at Patrick Gym. All of the action will be nationally-televised on ESPN2 and the ESPN app by logging in with your television provider. ESPN2 is located on DirecTV channel 209 while Dish Network viewers can tune-in to channel 143. Xfinity users can watch the game on channel 11 SD and 778 HD.
SEASON TICKET HOLDERS can purchase their regular season seats until Thursday (March 12) at 9 a.m. through their My Vermont Tickets account, by calling the UVM Ticket Office at (802) 656-4410 or in person at the UVM Ticket Office. Please contact the UVM Ticket Office at Athletic.Tickets@uvm.edu or 802-656-4410 with any questions regarding your online account.
VICTORY CLUB MEMBERS at the Captain level ($1500+) and above can request additional tickets for the championship game by completing the Victory Club playoff ticket request form (https://go.uvm.edu/mbbvctix) by Thursday (March 12) at 9 a.m. All requests will be filled based on availability and established Victory Club priority. If you have season tickets, please follow the instructions you received from the Ticket Office to ensure that your tickets do not get released.
Sales to the GENERAL PUBLIC, if tickets are still available, will begin on Friday (March 13) at 9 a.m. in-person at the Patrick Gym Box Office and online at UVMathletics.com/Tickets. Phone orders will not be taken until all in-person customers have been assisted.
STUDENTS can pick up their tickets in the Patrick Gym lobby on Saturday (March 16) in-person beginning at 8 a.m. Student must present their UVM ID in order to receive a ticket.