Women’s Hoop: Catamounts edged by UML 68-66

Courtesy Vermont Sports Information

BURLINGTON – Asia Mitchell-Owens answered a game-tying three from Hayley Robertson with a put-back from the foul line in the closing seconds, and UMass Lowell held on for a tight 68-66 victory at Patrick Gym on Monday night. Vermont drops to 7-17 (2-9) while UML improves to 4-19 (1-10) on the season.
Robertson recorded her first career double-double as the freshman eclipsed the 20-point mark for the first time this season, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Kylie Atwood registered double-figure scoring for the Catamounts with 12 points and Sydney Smith added 11 points.

Nicole Hayner paced three River Hawks in double-figure scoring as she posted 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Kayla Gibbs recorded 17 points and eight rebounds, while Lindsey Doucette added 16 points and also pulled down eight boards.

The Catamounts stormed back from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter and cut UMass Lowell’s lead to three with under 30 seconds remaining. Robertson drifted to the right wing and drained a long three-pointer to tie the score at 66 apiece.

On their final possession, the River Hawks fed Gibbs in the post, but Lauren Handy blocked her attempt from beneath the basket. The ball caromed to the free throw line for Mitchell-Owens, who nailed a jump shot for the game-winning basket. Robertson hoisted up a triple from the top of the key to win the game but it was off the mark.

“I am proud of our team for the way it fought back, but when you miss your first 11 threes and at least 15 layups in the game, winning becomes difficult,” said head coach Lori Gear McBride. “The younger players are showing the fight and learning how to win at this level and some of those lessons, like tonight, are harder than others. There are no degree of difficulty points awarded in basketball.”

Katie Lavelle found Rachel Merrill under the basket and the Catamounts strung together a 7-2 run to close out the first half, but trailed UMass Lowell 29-25. UVM held the River Hawks to just 1-for-7 from the field during its run and matched UML on the boards with 25 apiece after 20 minutes.

Atwood drained a three-pointer to give Vermont its first lead (38-36) of the game five minutes into the second half. UML’s Hayner sparked a run for the River Hawks as they closed the third quarter on a 10-2 spurt, shooting 5-for-6 from the field and forcing three Vermont turnovers. UVM trailed 49-42 with 10 minutes left to play.

A floater by Robertson made for a new career-high in scoring and brought Vermont to within six (56-50) of UML with four minutes to play. Smith laid one in at the 1:24 mark and connected on a pair from the line to make it a single-point game with 37 seconds remaining.

Mitchell-Owens responded to Robertson’s game-tying three with her first field goal of the night to win the conference matchup.

“We were short-handed tonight but I’m proud of the way the available players rose to the occasion,” McBride noted. “We just needed to make a few more early baskets and rebound better down the stretch.”

Vermont returns to action on Sunday (Feb. 14) as it hits the road and heads to Hartford to take on the Hawks. Tip-off in West Hartford, Connecticut is set for 2 p.m. Radio coverage begins 20 minutes prior to tip-off on WVMT 620-AM and SportsJuice.com with Jamie Scavotto calling the action. All conference games can also be viewed for free via AmericaEast.tv.

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