Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
BURLINGTON – Kurt Steidl scored 19 points for the second straight game and the Vermont men’s basketball team held off a late UC Santa Barbara charge to pick up a 75-68 win over the Gauchos at Patrick Gym Wednesday night. The Catamounts move to 5-6 and snap a two-game losing skid with the win while UCSB falls to 2-6.
Steidl tied his career-high with the 19 points on 5-of-12 shooting to lead a trio of Catamounts in double-figures. Darren Payen was dominant in limited minutes finishing with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting while Cam Ward chipped in with 11 – his sixth double-digit scoring performance in the last seven games.
Michael Bryson, the Big West Conference’s leading scorer, pumped in 19 points to pace UCSB. Gabe Vincent also cracked double-figures with 15 points.
Both teams got off to slow starts as it took nearly ten minutes for either team to score ten points. After foul trouble plagued the opening minutes, the game turned into a matchup of 2-3 zones and Vermont snatched the upperhand. Ward and Steidl both drilled a pair of 3-pointers while Ernie Duncan chipped in a pair of his own including one right before the halftime horn to give UVM a 39-31 lead at the break.
UVM shot 2-for-10 in the first ten minutes of the first half but made nine of its next 13 shots to close the first twenty minutes.
The Cats made an effort to get the ball inside early in the second half. Payen scored four of the first six UVM second-half points and seven of the first ten UVM points came in the paint. Drew Urquhart made a nice move to his right connecting on a jump hook plus a foul to give UVM a 50-41 lead.
After the lead grew to 11 on a pair of Nate Rohrer free throws, UCSB scored four straight including a Mitch Brewe putback and a Bryson dunk. UVM stretched the lead back out to a game-high 14 at the 8:06 mark when Steidl drilled his third 3-pointer.
A pair of late threes from UCSB cut the lead to six but Ethan O’Day and Steidl both hit a pair of free throws down the stretch and UVM held on to stay unbeaten at home.
The brief two-game homestand for the Catamounts concludes on Saturday with a 2 p.m. contest against Fisher College. The game can be seen on AmericaEast.TV and heard on ESPN 101.3 FM with AJ Kanell and Bernie Cieplicki on the call.