By René Reyes/DFP Staff
The University of Vermont had been a thorn in the Boston University men’s basketball team’s side lately, taking nine of the previous 10 meetings between the two squads, including an 83-70 decision in last year’s America East championship game.
But BU (7-10, 2-1 AE) put a quick stop to UVM’s recent success over it Sunday at Case Gymnasium and awarded coach Patrick Chambers with his first victory over Mike Lonergan’s Catamounts (11-4, 2-1 AE) in four tries.
Buoyed by 24 points apiece from senior forward John Holland and junior guard Darryl Partin, the Terriers upset the Catamounts, 74-65, and earned their most impressive win of the 2010-11 campaign before a crowd of 683 at The Roof despite not having the services of freshman forward Dom Morris and junior forward Jake O'Brien for a second straight game.
“Great America East battle,” Chambers said. “That’s what every game is gonna be. We played 40 minutes of BU basketball. We played hard. We played together. We played smart. We played with pride. It was nice to see.”
UVM and BU – who entered this afternoon’s contest averaging 69.5 points per game and 64.8 ppg, respectively – both struggled from the field in the early going. The two teams combined to shoot 3-of-11 to start off the contest, as the Catamounts held a 6-3 edge at the 4:19 mark.
Holland found himself settling for quick 3-pointers and mid-range jumpers out of the gate, attempting five of the Terriers’ first six shots and only knocking one of them down: a jumper 46 seconds in to put BU on the scoreboard.
Led by a 15-8 run, in which Partin contributed 11 points during that stretch, BU regained a 22-18 advantage over UVM with a little over eight minutes to go in the first half. The Catamounts retook the lead, 30-28, on a jumper by guard Brendan Bald in the final minutes of the half.
But Holland then drove to the hoop and was fouled by forward Garrett Kissel as time expired. He swished both freebies, as BU and VM headed into the locker room locked at 30-30. The first 20 minutes of play saw the score tied six times and the lead change hands seven different times.
With 9:24 to go in the game, Holland went to the line and drained both shots from the charity stripe, helping BU break a 46-46 tie up to that point. The Terriers would never surrender that lead, much in part to Holland’s ability to get to the rack consistently in the second half.
Fifteen of Holland’s game-high 24 points came from the free throw line, where the Bronx native went 12-of-14 from in the second stanza.
Holland constantly attacked Vermont’s injured Luke Apfield in the second half.
“Everybody saw that I was able to drive on him a little bit,” Holland said. “I know he’s a little injured. I was just trying to take advantage of that fact. I just attacked the basket, and I think that was a good, key part of the game.”
For Holland, this rematch against the same team that beat the Terriers in the AE title game last year was just another game on the schedule.
“It’s just the next game,” Holland said. “Now we gotta focus on [the University at]Albany. This was just another game.”
The Terriers limited the Catamounts’ leading scorers Evan Fjeld and Joey Accaoui to nine points apiece on a combined 6-of-19 shooting. Bald paced Vermont with 12 points and was the only Catamount to score in double figures. Forward Brian Voelkel had an off day from the field but he did snag 12 rebounds to lead Vermont.
Thanks to junior center Jeff Pelage’s eight boards and six blocks in 24 minutes before fouling out and Partin’s eight rebounds of his own, BU owned the glass against UVM, outrebounding it by a margin of 42-30.
Freshman guard D.J. Irving added 16 points and led the Terriers with four assists in another stellar performance from the rookie, who generated high praise from Lonergan.
The Terriers have now strung together back-to-back wins for the second time this season. The road doesn’t get any easier for BU with upcoming conference games at Albany and Stony Brook University.
In just his third game suiting up for AE action, what does Partin think of the league?
“Every game is a dogfight," Partin said. "That’s college basketball for you. Very good league. Competitive. Teams are coming at you. You just have to prepare in practice every day and just try to get better and better like Coach said, just keep tapping at that stone. It’s gonna break.