Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
BURLINGTON – Senior Kylie Butler tied a season-high with 12 points and Vermont did not trail in the second half as the Catamounts picked up a 55-52 win over Maine to tip off America East play Wednesday night at Patrick Gymnasium.
The win to open conference play puts UVM at 4-9 overall on the season, while Maine is now 7-9 overall and 0-1 in America East action. It also ended a five-game losing streak for Vermont as well as a seven-game slide against the Black Bears.
Candice Wright added 11 points in the victory.
Maine controlled much of the first quarter, jumping out to a 13-3 lead by the 4:06 mark. By period’s end, the Catamounts had clawed their way back to 13-8. The Black Bears’ initial 10-point advantage with 4:06 left would stand as their last made field goal until the 4:17 mark in the second quarter, when Laia Sole hit from behind the arc.
That stretch was indicative of a much different second frame, beginning with a quick layup down low from Kylie Butler on a feed from Wright. UVM surrendered just three points in the period in holding Maine to just 1-for-7 (14.3 percent) from the field on Sole’s 3-pointer, constructing a 16-0 run over 7:12. Five different Catamounts chipped in during that timeframe.
Vermont had a strong defensive half and forced 12 Black Bears turnovers in the game’s first 20 minutes, including eight during Maine’s 9:49 stretch without a field goal. The end result was a 23-16 halftime lead for the Green and Gold after Katie Lavelle fed Hanna Crymble for a 3-pointer with four seconds on the clock.
The Green and Gold continued to build momentum coming out of the break, swelling the lead to as much as 11. Highlighted in part by a 6-for-13 (46.2 percent) performance from the field in the quarter, UVM took a 38-30 advantage into the last 10 minutes after dominating the Black Bears 10-4 in the paint.
The final period was witness to a valiant comeback effort by the Black Bears, narrowing Vermont’s lead to just one on multiple occasions. Crucial free throws in the final minute by Sydney Smith,Kallie Banker and Lauren Handy ultimately sealed the victory.
Sole led all scorers with 21 points for Maine.
Wednesday’s result also earned head coach Chris Day his first conference win at the helm of the Catamounts. It was the Green and Gold’s first win in a league opener since knocking off UMass Lowell by a 95-82 margin on Dec. 1, 2013 in Burlington.
UVM is back on the hardwood on Saturday (Jan. 7) with a 2 p.m. contest at Hartford from Chase Arena.