Men’s Hoop: Catamounts Surge Past Black Bears 85-68

Courtesy Vermont Sports Information

BURLINGTON – On his 22nd birthday, Darren Payen turned in a career performance and the Vermont men’s basketball began its second tour through the America East with an 85-68 win over the visiting Maine Black Bears. The Catamounts bring their league record to 6-3 and 14-10 overall while Maine falls to 8-14 and 4-5 in league.

Payen played his best game in a Catamount uniform notching his first career double-double with 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting and 13 rebounds – both career-highs. Ethan O’Day went for 23 points and eight rebounds to go along with four assists and three blocks. Dre Wills (11p/4r/4a), Trae Bell-Haynes (11p/8a) and Drew Urquhart (10p/4r) also reached double-figures for the Cats.

Vermont outscored Maine 56-20 in the paint.

For Maine, Aaron Calaxte paced a trio of Black Bears in double-digits with 15 points and five assists. Devine Eke and Isaac Vann scored 14 and 12 points, respectively.

UVM jumped out to an early 6-0 lead with all six points coming courtesy of Payen. The redshirt-junior started 4-of-4 from the field for eight points in the first nine minutes of the contest.

Maine roared back to tie the game at 14 with 11:39 left thanks to some hot shooting from beyond the arc. Four different Black Bears connected from deep including Calixte, who shot a perfect 3-of-3 for the game.

Out of the under-12 media break, Bell-Haynes converted a three-point play to spark a 7-0 UVM run and give UVM a 25-18 lead. Maine countered and outscored UVM 10-2 over the next four minutes to take a 28-27 lead.

Four straight points from Payen to close the half sent the Cats into the locker room with a three-point edge.

After the break, it took Maine just over three minutes to storm back in front on a pair of threes from Calixte and Vann. Eke connected on a bucket in the paint to give the Black Bears their biggest lead of the night, 45-41, with 15:24 remaining.

Over the next seven minutes, however, Vermont went on a 22-4 run that concluded with a pair of Urquhart free throws and a 63-49 Catamount lead. Wills scored nine of his 11 points in the midst of the run including a momentum-shifting two-handed slam to ignite the crowd and Vermont’s defense. The Cats held Maine to just 2-of-9 shooting during the run.

Vermont now heads out on a brief two-game road swing with stops in Albany to take on the Great Danes and in Lowell for a battle with the Riverhawks. Saturday night’s game against Albany will tipoff at 7:07 p.m. and will be carried on Time Warner Cable with a live stream available on AmericaEast.TV. Local radio coverage begins at 6:30 both nights with AJ Kanell calling the action.

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