The Cats suffered their first home loss of the season tonight at Patrick Gymnasium to a solid Maine squad that finds itself in sole possession of America East at 5-1. The Cats dropped to 3-2 in conference.
Vermont showed signs of dominating the glass, but ended the game with only a 3-rebound advantage. This made Maine’s night much easier, considering that they shot 49.1% from the field, while Vermont shot a meager 35.8%. Maine’s 2-3 zone stifled Vermont, as they had trouble getting the ball inside and couldn’t seem to knock down a big outside shot when it mattered. Maine’s leading scorer Troy Barnies matched his average with 14, though Luke Apfeld played great defense against him most of the night. That extra attention to one player ended up costing Apfeld, as he fouled out in the last few minutes of the game. It also cost Vermont, as Gerald McLemore and Raheem Singleton made the scoring much more even by both scoring 14 points. Evan Fjeld lead UVM with 18 points on 7-15 shooting, which is slightly misleading since many of his 8 missed attempts were remarkably close to the basket.
UVM’s real problem seemed to be that they had no spark on offense. Fjeld had his 18, Joey Accaoui had his obligatory 15, but when they needed a big hoop it never seemed to go down. The Cats cut the lead to 5 with just under 7 minutes remaining, only to see Singleton drain one of Maine’s five three pointers (they shot 5-12 from 3). The Cats never got closer. Defensive lapses also cost the team -- three different times Accaoui stepped underneath a ball screen, and three different times Maine hit a three because of it. A lack of help side defense also contributed to some easy baskets by way of backdoor cuts for Maine.
A real eyesore of the game was the officiating. I’m not someone who usually has a problem with the officials, but this game was downright poorly officiated at times. Within a 1:47 second span in the second half, the officials issued 7 personal fouls and 1 technical foul. Predictably, the first four were on UVM, then Coach Lonergan received a technical, and then Maine was called for three consecutive personals, all of which might be called ticky-tack fouls. It went both ways, but it was a shame, as it slowed the pace of a reasonably enjoyable basketball game.
Maine emerged as the team to beat in America East over the 40 minutes of basketball at Patrick Gymnasium tonight. Hopefully we’ll get ‘em when it counts.