The Cats clinched at least a share of the America East regular season crown on Sunday in Burlington. Vermont took down Binghamton 60-51 in front of the hometown faithful. If BU loses in its next three games, or Vermont wins one of its two remaining games (@Maine, and vs. BU), then Vermont claims the title outright. It is the fifth time since 2002 that the Catamounts have clinched at least a share of first place in the conference. Ironically, in only one season in which they have finished in first place have they gone on to win the conference tournament, doing so in 2005. Here is hoping that they can rewrite that trend on March 12.
Brian Voelkel turned in another outstanding performance, scoring 12 points, pulling down 13 rebounds and dishing out 5 assists. Vermont's ridiculous freshman gets a little more ridiculous each time he plays.
Evan Fjeld scored 14 points and Brendan Bald added 12. Vermont got Joey Accaoui back from his hand injury and he was able to score 5 points in 20 minutes of play.
The boys in green and gold again rode their defense to the victory, holding Binghamton to under 35% from the field, including 25.9% in the second half. Ouch. Perhaps more remarkably, other than a garbage-time field goal for the Bearcats, they did not score in the last 9 minutes of the game. The game was tied at 49 with 8:42 seconds to go. The Cats shut it down after that, outscoring Binghamton 11-0 over the next 8:39. That is some good defense.
The Catamounts have proven time and time again that they can beat the teams they should beat. Every one of their losses can be defended. But at the same time, they have not yet beaten a team that makes you think: now, that's a great win. They will get their chance in the last three games of the regular season, taking on third place Maine, the Southern Conference's College of Charleston, and then second place Boston University. The next three games will really tell us a lot about this team that is now 21-5 and ranked 78th in RPI. It's finally time to see what these Cats are made of.