BURLINGTON — The University of Vermont men’s basketball team advanced to the America East Tournament Championships with Tuesday’s 84-51 victory over Binghamton.
Stef Smith scored 28 points and grabbed five rebounds for top-seeded Vermont, which will host No. 3 UMBC in Saturday’s conference title game. Anthony Lamb (18 points, seven assists) also had a big night for Vermont (26-6).
Ernie Duncan contributed eight points, four assists and three rebounds for the Cats, who built a 52-22 lead in the first half. Everett Duncan and Isaiah Moll scored six points for UVM. Ben Shungu added four rebounds, three points and two assists in the victory, while teammate Samuel Dingba contributed five rebounds and three assists.
Caleb Stewart (16 points) paced Binghamton (10-23). Richard Caldwell Jr. (eight points), Everson Davis (seven points) and Chancellor Barnard (six points) provided balance for the Bearcats. Binghamton’s Sam Sessoms, this year’s America East Rookie of the Year, was held scoreless after going 0 of 6 from the field.
UMBC (21-12) swept Vermont in the regular season and has earned three straight victories over the Catamounts. The Retrievers handed UVM a 74-61 loss on Jan. 23, taking advantage of a short-handed UVM side after Lamb was scratched from the lineup in order to take part in concussion protocol. The teams met again Feb. 21 and UMBC earned a 65-56 on its home court. UMBC needed double overtime Tuesday to earn a 90-85 victory over Hartford.
Vermont is 14-3 against UMBC at Patrick Gym and leads the all-time series 32-6. Last winter, UMBC’s Jairus Lyles made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and lifted the Retrievers to a 65-62 win over Vermont in the America East title game. It snapped UVM’s 23-game winning streak against UMBC, and the Retrievers later became the first No. 16 seed in NCAA Tournament history to beat the top seed by eliminating Virginia.
Catamounts coach John Becker earned his 16th America East tournament victory Tuesday and moved into a tie for third place on the league’s list of most conference tournament wins. UVM has made 10 straight appearances in the America East semifinals, marking the longest streak in the conference’s history.
The No. 7 Bearcats were the Cinderella team of the opening round after pulling off a 78-72 upset at No. 2 Stony Brook. But they had no answer against the Catamounts, who have won the last nine meetings against Binghamton and hold a 33-8 advantage in the all-time series. Vermont has beat Binghamton in all five conference tournament matchups. During the regular season, Vermont cruised to a 78-50 win over Binghamton in Burlington before hanging on for a 69-63 victory in Vestal, New York.
Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Vermont is 26-1 against schools located in New York. The run includes non-conference victories over Marist, Hofstra, Siena and St. Bonaventure while topping league rivals Albany, Binghamton and Stony Brook.