May 29, 2020
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Vermont mastery over Maine continues

BURLINGTON, Vt. — The Vermont Catamounts may still be on the short end of the all-time series with Maine, but they certainly have the upper hand in the rivalry the last few years.
Vermont’s men’s basketball team won its sixth straight against the Black Bears, 64-51 at Patrick Gymnasium Wednesday night, behind another all-conference effort from star forwad Marqus Blakely and a defensive effort that never let the Bears get any sustained offensive rhythm.
Blakely scored 13 points in the first half en route to his 13th double-double of the season with 22 total points, 10 rebounds, and five of Vermont’s seven steals.
“I think that one of my strengths is getting up and down the floor quickly and Maine’s big men aren’t the fastest big men in the league,” said Blakely. “So I feel like that’s the main reason I play so well against them.”
Maine drops to 14-8 overall and 6-3 in America East conference play with its second straight loss and moves into third place while Vermont takes over second.
Freshman forward Murphy Burnatowski led Maine with 13 points and three steals. Senior guard Junior Bernal had 12 points and nine rebounds.
Maine leading scorer Gerald McLemore was held almost 10 points below his scoring average with five total and five turnovers.
Vermont sophomore guard Garvey Young had no points, but was lauded for his defensive job on McLemore by both coach Mike Lonergan and teammates.
“We ask him to guard the other team’s best player every night and he takes the challenge,” said Vermont guard Maurice Joseph (11 points). “He’s a priceless piece of our puzzle.”
“There aren’t many times when you see someone score zero points and has a huge impact on the game,” said Lonergan. “That was a huge key to the game.”
Junior forward Sean McNally, Maine’s No. 2 scorer, also struggled for a second straight game as he finished with nine points and four rebounds against Vermont’s tandem of 6-foot-8 Evan Fjeld and 6-10 Ben Crenca.
“I’m just not quite used to the double teams yet,” said McNally, who had one assist. “I know teams are gunning for me so I’m looking for the open person, but it’s about getting the proper angles in the post and start going baseline more.”
Fjeld also had a double-double for the 16-8 Catamounts (7-3 in AE)with 13 points and 10 boards.
“Evan’s not as strong as those guys [McNally and Troy Barnies], but I think the ball pressure really helped us,” said Lonergan. “We also like to pressure Bernal when he has the ball just so they can’t run their offense and we push their offense a little further out.”
The Bears turned up the defensive pressure with 15 minutes left in the game, and outscored Vermont 10-2 to trim a 13-point Catamounts’ lead to a 49-44 with five minutes to play. While the good news for Maine was the Bears holding Vermont scoreless for five minutes, the bad news was Maine also went scoreless during the same period.
Vermont wouldn’t give Maine another opportunity to close the gap as the Catamounts finally got their offense revved back up with an 11-2 run capped by a Joseph 3-pointer from the right corner with 2:49 to play. The 3-pointer made it 60-46 Vermont and essentially put the Bears away.
“We played very well, especially in the first half, but every time we looked up at the scoreboard, it seemed like we were still up only eight points or so,” said Lonergan.
The Catamounts outshot Maine 46.2 to 31.6 percent from the field overall.
“Pretty much every play they ran, they had to pull it out and run another set, which is good because up there they were getting more easy buckets last time,” said Blakely.
The Bears and Catamounts basically battled even on the boards as Maine had 33 overall to Vermont’s 34, but Vermont outscored the Bears 20-8 in points off turnovers — even thought Maine had 13 total to Vermont’s 12 — and 30-20 in the paint.
“They got some easy baskets early, especially off turnovers, and they feed off that,” said Maine coach Ted Woodward. “I was happy with the way our guys fought back in the second half, especially with some of our guys in foul trouble.”
Maine was victimized by turnovers early and had a total of seven in the half, but Vermont only committed one while outshooting Maine 45.7 to 38.5 percent from the field, outscoring Maine 11-0 in points off turnovers, and 6-0 in fast break points.
Although the teams were even in rebounds with 18 apiece in the first half, Vermont outscored Maine 22-11 in the paint.


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