Men’s Hoop: Catamounts Win Conference Opener at Maine 90-72

Courtesy Vermont Sports Information

Bangor, Maine – Trae Bell-Haynes scored 27 points, Ethan O’Day became the 34th Catamount to eclipse the 1,000 point plateau and the Vermont men’s basketball team opened America East play with 90-72 win over the Maine Black Bears. The Catamounts have now won three straight and improve to 9-7 while Maine falls to 4-10.

Bell-Haynes pumped in 17 of his 27 in the first half and shot a sizzling 10-of-14 from the floor. O’Day put together his most complete game of the season finishing with 18 points, eight rebounds and a career-high five assists. His free throw with 9:18 to play in the second half was the 1,000th point of his career. Cam Ward also finished in double figures for the Catamounts with 10 points.

Maine put four into double-figures led by Till Gloger’s 13 points but the Black Bears shot just 5-for-17 from long range and Vermont turned 14 Maine turnovers into 21 points.

Maine came out in its trademark high-pressure system and Vermont handled it well early on. Bell-Haynes turned into a one-man press breaker weaving in and out of traps and gave the Cats a 21-14 lead with a driving bucket at the 11:28 mark.

The Lead stretched to nine, 27-18, for Vermont on a layup from Cam Ward with 8:12 to play.

Maine’s pressure took control for the next three minutes as the Black Bears went on a 10-0 run to take their first lead of the day, 28-27. They led by as many as six after back-to-back threes from Kevin Little and Troy Reid-Knight with 2:28 on the clock.

Vermont answered back and closed the half on a 10-4 spurt to draw even 40-all at the break.

The second half was a different story. Vermont established a grinding tempo to start the stanza and found O’Day inside for five straight points. A Nate Rohrer layup put the Catamounts ahead 62-52 with 12:04 to play.

Maine got as close as seven thanks to a bucket by Devine Eke but Ward and O’Day combined to score the next six points to stretch the lead to 13 with 9:18 remaining. Over the final six minutes, Vermont outscored Maine 20-12 en route to its 17th win over Maine in the last 20 tries.

The win sets up a showdown between the Catamounts and the three-time defending America East champion Albany Great Danes Saturday in Burlington. Albany defeated UMBC 72-59 to start its league schedule. Tipoff from Patrick Gym is scheduled for 12 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN3 and the watchESPN app. AJ Kanell will have the call on ESPN 101.3 FM.

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