The university of Vermont has just beat Albany 56-53 to win the America East Championship at Patrick Gym on Saturday, March 11, 2017, and now advance to the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The monsters that have haunted the University of Vermonts playoff dreams, asexpected, came ready for a fight. And they pulled out all the stops.
They wore their big, shiny championship ring as reminders of the pain they inflicted before.
They stifled the catamounts for the better part of the 40 minutes, knoking the hosts out of the faithful rhythm that had carried them to 20 straight wins. They slowed the game to their liking, muscled in front early punctured the festive atmosphere of a sold-out Patrick Gym.
It was happening again.
But when the time came for the big, bad Albany Great Danes to break hearts once more in the America East Conference final, shatter the glass slipper many had fashioned weeks ahead of time when UVM looked to be a sure-fire NCAA Cinderella, the Catamounts had an answer on Saturday.
“Ten Minutes is a lot of time and thers no deficit that cant be overcome with 10 imutes to go.” Vermont coach John Becker said.
A 12-3 UVM rally left the game on a knifes edge, a tidy 50-50 with 3 1/2 minutes to go, and it stayed there. With 3 minutes to go. With 2 minutes to go. With a minute and change to go.
This time, No. 3 Albany flinched first and top-seeded Vermont was the one to punce, closing on an 1806 run in a 56-53 nailbiter that booked the Catamount first NCAA tournament berth since 2012.
“We just stuck with it, didn’t get down,” UVM junior Payton Henson said. ” We just stuck to the game plan, kept on defending and never gave up.”
Count it as the latest chapter in the best rivalry in America East men’s basketball: since 2003. Vermont owns six crowns, Albany has five and the rest of the league as four.